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Changes at Probate Registries leading to bequest notification delays

Changes at Probate Registries leading to bequest notification delays

Charities are experiencing delays in bequest notifications as a result of changes at the Probate Registries, the latest Legacy Foresight bulletin shows.

Legacy Foresight found that bequest notifications across its Legacy Monitor consortium members were down 7% on the year to June 2018. It attributes much of this drop to delays at the Probate Registries caused by the introduction of new structure and processes including the transition to a new case management system, with the remainder to a decline in the number of deaths thanks to 2018/19’s relatively mild winter.

If HMCTS’s plans to clear the backlog by the end of August are successful, Legacy Foresight expects bequest numbers to be back to usual levels by the next Bulletin.

It is a situation the Institute of Legacy Management and other organisations are also monitoring carefully, says the Institute’s CEO Matthew Lagden. It is also currently conducting a survey to assess the impact across its own membership.

Lagden commented:

“ILM is aware from our charity members that delays in issuing Grants of Probate has led to a fall in the number of notifications that are being received. This will inevitably lead to a short-term fall in legacy income for some of our charity members at a time when charity incomes generally are under pressure. We spoke to HMCTS earlier in the summer when they assured us that they were working hard to resolve the issues and clear the backlog.

“We are working closely with other sector and professional bodies such as Remember a Charity and the Law Society Wills and Probate Section to monitor the issue and press for a resolution. If the issues are not resolved by the end of August we will be seeking a meeting with HMCTS to raise our concerns.”

Overall, Legacy Foresight’s latest figures show that the past 12 months to June 2019 saw the legacy income of the 80 Legacy Monitor members grow by 4.3% to £1.54bn, despite the recent slowdown in key economic variables such as house prices, which grew by 1.5% p.a. in the first quarter of 2019, and share prices, which are lower than a year ago.

According to Legacy Foresight, this growth appears to have been driven by some exceptionally large bequests reported by its consortium members this quarter.

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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