Section 27 Notice
Recently, The Gazette (Official Public Record) and Certainty the National Will Register have entered into a contractual arrangement producing a strategic working alliance aimed at offering a comprehensive, "belt and braces" approach to risk management when distributing an estate during probate.
Certainty deals with many queries relating to Section 27 Notices. A Section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925 enables trustees or personal representatives to protect themselves from liability against any claims from creditors and/or beneficiaries that they have not had any notice of at the time that they convey or distribute the property in question, provided that the notice placed complies with the requirements of that section. This includes, amongst other things, advertising the intention to convey or distribute the property through a notice placed in The Gazette and a local newspaper (where the property is land) and setting out a period of not less than two months’ for any interested person to send the particulars of their claim to the trustees or personal representatives. Although it is not a legal requirement, any trustee or personal representative placing the notice in accordance with section 27 will not be liable to any such creditors or beneficiaries. A Certainty Will Search on the other hand is a pre-cursor to the Section 27 Notice in that it seeks to ensure the correct Will is being administered; alternatively to establish there most likely is not a Will in an assumed intestacy situation.
The rationale of the Gazette/Certainty working alliance is that Certainty Will Search and Section 27 Notices complement each other but do not substitute each other.
We can quote from Tom Dumont (Barrister, Radcliffe Chambers) who commented on Certainty Will Search and Section 27 Notices: "Section 27(2)(b) says that nothing in section 27 frees the PRs from any obligation to make searches similar to those which an intending purchaser would be advised to make. Clearly, a Will Search should be done right at the beginning of the estate administration process, so as to verify you are proceeding with the correct Will; or alternatively that there is a Will. Time and expense will inevitably be saved in this way. As will be evident from what I have said, a Section 27 Notice does not remove the requirement to do a Will Search - the two procedures serve different purposes but work effectively and comprehensively to guard against risk. They represent a best practice approach to managing risk."
From Certainty research undertaken among solicitors, 90% of those solicitors who placed a Section 27 Notice did so where they were the professional executor. However, the placing of Section 27 Notices should apply equally, and be recommended, to lay PRs.
The Certainty Protect Will Search, now includes a Section 27 Notice at no extra cost!