Thursfields Solicitors is keen to make charities aware that the way they are alerted to legacies they have been left in Wills is about to change.

The warning comes after the Ministry of Justice recently announced that its longstanding relationship with Smee & Ford – the service which notifies charities when they have been left a legacy in a Will – is ending later this year.

Katherine Ellis, a Senior Associate Solicitor at Thursfields’ Birmingham office, who was previously a legacy manager at the British Heart Foundation, explained that while a new system was planned, it was important that charities didn’t lose out as a result.

Katherine said: “There will be a new notification service alerting charities of bequests, but because of the huge importance of legacy giving the charity sector is understandably keen to ensure that this change does not have a negative impact, particularly given the short timescale for change.”

She said that the Ministry of Justice had invited the Institute of Fundraising and the Institute of Legacy Management to put forward their views on behalf of the sector.

Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, said: “I recognise the value to charities of receiving early notification of bequests left in wills and we are committed to working alongside the sector to establish a new, sustainable arrangement that works for everyone.”

Katherine Ellis added: “We will keep our charity clients updated regarding the changes as they develop.

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

Details of Ministry of Justice’s announcement can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-service-for-charitable-bequests-to-be-established and updates on the subject will be published here http://www.gov.uk/hmcts.

For further advice please contact a member of Thursfields Charity Governance team on 0121 647 5419 or email Katherine Ellis, kellis@thursfields.co.uk

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