HM Courts & Tribunals Service seeks to reassure charities on legacy notifications

Charity sector organisations have expressed concerns about the courts service taking over the role from the legacy information provider Smee & Ford in July

HM Courts & Tribunal Service has said it is "confident" that the new legacy notification service will ready by the time the old system ends in July.

Some in the charity sector expressed concern after HMCTS announced in January that it would end the legacy information provider Smee & Ford’s contract to provide charities with a paid-for legacy notification service.

The probate research firm Fraser and Fraser had criticised the lack of information available since the announcement and warned that charities could lose out on "millions of pounds worth of funds" if a new system to alert charities to gifts left to them in wills was not in place by the end of July.

But in a letter responding to several groups that had raised concerns, sent this week, Susan Acland-Hood, the chief executive of HMCTS, sought to reassure the sector.

She said: "I am now confident that an interim solution will be in place to deliver the continuity of service your members have sought."

But she said she was not yet in a position to provide details about what the solution might look like, although she said it would be a temporary one while work was done "to shape the longer-term solution".

Acland-Hood said she recognised how important the service was to charities and she was committed to ensuring an effective notification service was developed.

The Law Society has previously said that Smee & Ford reads 5,000 wills a week. HMCTS figures show that 122,000 charitable bequests were made in 2017.

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