Thursfields Solicitors’ expert on charity bequests has called on the Government to speed up its plans to replace the service that notifies charities when they have been left money in someone’s will.

Katherine Ellis, a Senior Associate Solicitor at Thursfields’ Birmingham office, was speaking after the charity sector expressed its frustration when HM Courts and Tribunals Service was able to offer very few details about a revamped wills notification service at the Institute of Legacy Management’s Conference last Friday.

The government announced it was ending the current arrangement with Smee & Ford in July and that it was working on a new system in consultation with the sector, but there has since been little detail about how this might work.

Katherine, who was previously a legacy manager at the British Heart Foundation, said it was crucial that charities didn’t lose out as a result of the change and that the government should put extra efforts into resolving the issue.

She said: “It’s simply not good enough that more than four months after announcing this change HM Courts and Tribunals Service is nowhere near explaining how this will work.

While the existing service may have had its faults, it was working and enabling charities to access millions of pounds that people wanted to donate but that might not have seen the light of day without proper notification.

The government must speed up its action on this issue or else there is a real risk that charities will lose out, through no fault of their own.”

Katherine added: “We will be keeping a very close eye on developments and will make sure all our charity clients are updated regarding any details of these changes as they develop.

“Meanwhile, we can offer advice and support to charities on how to best utilise the current notification service to maximise their legacy income, whilst also limiting the risk of any adverse publicity.”

The details of Ministry of Justice’s announcement can be found here and updates on the subject will be published here.

For advice relating to this or any other charity governance requirements please contact Katherine Ellis on 0121 647 5419 or kellis@thursfields.co.uk

 

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