Charities frustrated over lack of detail on changes to wills notification service

13 May 2019 News

Charities have said they are disappointed about the lack of details about plans to replace the existing service that notifies charities when they have been left money in someone's will. 

Ed Owen, director of communications at HM Courts and Tribunals Service, was speaking at the Institute of Legacy Management’s Conference on Friday but was able to offer few details about plans for a revamped wills notification service, to the frustration of the audience.

In January HMCTS announced it would end the current arrangement with Smee & Ford in July and that it was working on new system in consultation with stakeholders.

On Friday Owen offered reassurance that the sector would be listened to and said he hoped to give another update next month.

Interim arrangement 

He told charity legacy representatives attending the conference that an interim arrangement for the notification service would buy time for a longer term solution.

One of the main issues for the working group was ensuring continuity of service beyond July and the working group meets next month to confirm an interim provision.

Owen said the working group would have a conversation then about the long term solution for the wills notification service.

Owen, a board trustee at London’s Air Ambulance and ex-CEO at Cystic Fibrosis Trust said: “We hope you’ll get the same information and service in the interim and that you’ll barely notice the difference in August.”

'Disappointing' update from HMCTS

Charities responded with frustration to Owen’s remarks, a representative from the United Jewish Israel Appeal at the conference described the update as "disappointing".

To the audience's questions about fees, Owen said: “Is it a free service to charities? I don’t know but that is something that will be looked at.”

He said the current wills notification service had been found unacceptable around fees and that the decision to change the service had been taken “on the basis of unlawfulness.”

He refused to provide any detail but asked for trust and understanding from the sector on the decision.


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