Press release

New service for charitable bequests to be established

A new system alerting charities to when they have been left money in wills is to be established by HM Courts and Tribunals Service following a decision to end its current arrangement.

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  • New arrangements to alert charities of bequests to be drawn up
  • Current arrangement to end but continuity of service to be prioritised
  • Charity sector to be involved in shaping new long-term arrangement

Charity representatives are being invited to help establish a new service that delivers a sustainable and efficient arrangement for the sector.

The move follows a decision to end HMCTS’ current arrangement with Smee & Ford, a private company, which has provided a paid-for notification service to participating charities for several years. While this was established in good faith, HMCTS has since found that it is not consistent with the department’s legal duties.

We will be working closely with Smee & Ford in order to seek to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible arising out of these changes over the six months’ notice period, and we will also seek their views, based on their knowledge of the current service, about options for a new arrangement.

HMCTS chief executive, Susan Acland-Hood, 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.

Our decision to end our current arrangement with Smee & Ford is no reflection on the service provided by them but comes as a result of an assessment of our legal position. We will continue to work closely with the company to seek to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible arising out of these changes over the next period.

Representatives of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, the Institute of Fundraising and the Institute of Legacy Management have been invited to join a working group bringing together views of the sector with the aim of creating a new and sustainable arrangement that will continue to work for all those using the current service.

An open letter, sent by Susan Acland-Hood to all affected charities, can be found below:

Susan Acland-Hood open letter to charities

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Published 31 January 2019