Charity Sector Given Less Than 6 Weeks To Prepare For Wills Notification Changes

Charities will be given less than six weeks to prepare for the new Wills Notification service.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service have confirmed that the charity sector will not be offered any further details on the replacement and interim Wills Notification Service until June 18, less than six weeks before the new system will start.

Following a joint letter to HMCTS sent by the Institute of Legacy Management, Institute of Fundraising, ACEVO, NCVO and Remember a Charity, the government have responded by claiming that no new information will be forthcoming until the next steering group meeting that is scheduled for June 18.

Since the announcement in February, a working group, including The Institute of Legacy Management and a number of high-profile charities in the sector, have been collaborating with the government to explain the difficulties, challenges and help HMCTS to shape the new system which will launch in August.

However, since the initial working group meeting in March, the Wills, Probate and charity sector have faced radio silence on the changes.

HMCTS have confirmed that they will launch the system in two phases in order to ensure continuity of service. Firstly, in order to ensure a continuity of service beyond the current arrangements ending in July, a short-term arrangement will be set up to bridge a gap between the current system and a long-term successor in 2020.

The charity sector will now have just 42 days to prepare for any new changes once HMCTS is finally able to offer more information at the steering group in June.

Whilst HMCTS chief executive, Susan Acland-Hood was pleased to announce that ‘good progress’ had been made, the charity sector have intimated that a lack of preparation time could cause delays to the system which will have a huge impact on the crucial legacy income from Will gifts.

Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive, HM Courts & Tribunals Service, commented in her letter response:

“Following the announcement in January, we have worked hard to listen to and understand the views of the sector on this critical issue. We are grateful to each of you, as well as to some of your members – such as Blerta Club at Save the Children – for giving my team your time to help us in this task.

“As I said in January, I am committed to ensuring that the charity sector has a central role in helping us shape a sustainable notification service for the future. It is why I established the steering group you attend that met for the first time in March and will meet again on 18th June.

“You as a group have consistently represented to us the importance of ensuring continuity of service for charities once existing arrangements cease at the end of July. This clear position has been reinforced by your members at engagement events attended by my Communications Director, Ed Owen, over the last three months too.

“As a result, we have prioritised our effort during this time to securing an interim arrangement to provide participating charities with a notification service while the work is done to shape the longer-term solution.

“I am pleased to tell you that that this effort has made good progress and that, while I am not yet in a position to provide details, I am now confident that an interim solution will be in place to deliver the continuity of service your members have sought.

“My team is working hard on this and will continue to do so over the next few weeks to implement and deliver this solution, and we will provide an update on this to you at the forthcoming steering group meeting. I hope and believe that this will give you and your members the reassurance you require, and enable HMCTS, the sector and others to move forward more deliberately on work relating to developing to the longer-term arrangements.”

Matthew Lagden, CEO of ILM, commented:

“We were very pleased to read the letter from Susan Acland-Hood at HMCTS. It was reassuring to know that our concerns were being taken seriously, and we are now very confident that a robust interim solution will be in place in time to ensure that the Wills Notification Service continues without a break. We are looking forward to working closely with HMCTS to help ensure that the long term solution meets our members needs.”

Will a delayed update cause significant delays to the wills notification service? How damaging is this lack of communication to those working in legacy gifts?

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