Legacy bodies welcome potentially ‘transformative’ new probate processes

Charity

Legacy bodies have welcomed potentially “transformative” new government measures aimed at streamlining the legacy income process for charities. 

The charity legacy consortium Remember A Charity and the Institute for Legacy Management said the changes being introduced by His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service would include the addition of a new charity indicator on digital applications and more regular updates and forecasts for charities named in wills. 

This would also include a pledge to provide greater transparency about the level of estates held up in the system, the organisations said. 

The probate registry will add a form field on digital applications, which account for 80 per cent of cases, that will identify whether an estate includes a charitable gift to enable better future tracking and forecasting, Remember A Charity and the ILM said.

It also plans to deliver a programme of webinars for charities to provide further information on its approach.

Latest family court data from the government shows that between April and June this year, the mean average time from an application submission to grant issue was 14 weeks. This had increased from the previous quarter of January to March, when it took an average of nine weeks to reach a grant issue.

HMCTS said it reduced the backlog in September and October, adding that provisional data showed a significantly higher output of grants issued than applications received.

Lucinda Frostick, director of the legacy charity consortium Remember A Charity, said: “Legacy giving is a lifeline for thousands of charities and community-based organisations and, particularly during such tough times for the sector, any delays can have a hefty impact on charities and their ability to deliver services.  

She added that while there was still “a way to go” before much charitable income would be released from the system, the new measures were still “great news” for the sector.

Frostick said: “The ability to identify the proportion of charitable estates in the system at any one time really could be transformative. 

“Not only will it help charities budget for likely legacy income, but it effectively hardwires the charitable ask into the application process, helping to normalise legacy giving to executors, solicitors and others.”  

Matthew Lagden, the chief executive of the charitable body the Institute for Legacy Management, said new measures came after “extensive consultation and dialogue” with the ILM and Remember A Charity.

“There is no doubt that, once in place, these measures will help charities to forecast future legacy income more accurately, access regular updates and information and, above all, realise gifts in a more timely fashion as waiting times come down,” he said.

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