Bequest notifications to charities down by 7 per cent

Legacy Foresight says the fall in notifications in the year to June 2019 compared with the previous year has been caused by a backlog and delays at probate registries

There was a 7 per cent fall in the number of bequest notifications to charities after recent government reforms to the legacy notification system, the latest figures from Legacy Foresight show.

In its analysis of the year to June 2019, Legacy Foresight said that the fall in notifications in the year to June 2019 compared with the previous year was caused by a "backlog" and delays at probate registries.

The data also show that income from legacies grew by 4.3 per cent to £1.54bn despite continued economic uncertainty.

The fall in bequest notifications comes after recent attempts at reforming the system through which charities receive charitable bequests, with the changes announced in January this year.

The legacy information firm Smee & Ford had been due to lose a contract with the government to notify charities about gifts in wills, but it was announced in July that the company would run the service for at least a further 12 months until a long-term solution could be found.

Legacy Foresight said HM Courts and Tribunal Service had provided assurances that the probate backlog could be cleared before the end of August, after which it is predicted that the number of bequest notifications should return to normal.

Its latest bulletin said that the growth in legacy income came despite pre-Brexit economic turbulence and the delays at probate registries, as well as a slowdown in house-price increases.

For example, house prices, a key driver of the value of many people’s estates, rose by only 1.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, and share prices are also lower than the previous year, Legacy Foresight said.

Despite this, legacy income still reached a record high, according to the Legacy Foresight bulletin.

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