Charities back government action to tackle delays in handing out legacy gifts

Charities have welcomed government action to speed up the backlog of wills being processed by the legal system.

During the pandemic rising death rates have put an increasing strain on the legal system on probate procedures. The system has also had to deal with incomplete form filling and other challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

This has impacted on the speed of ensuring charities receive money gifted to them in wills. Currently legacy gifts make up more than 30 % of charities’ annual voluntary income.

There are 29,000 estates currently held in the system.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has put in place measures to minimise delays. This includes taking on and training more staff, reducing waiting time on digital processes and trialling a digital notifications tool.

In addition, regular progress data on applications and grants around wills will be published on a monthly basis by HMCTS.

Rob Cope, director of charity sector legacy body Remember A Charity said: “Charitable income has been heavily hampered by the pandemic this year, making legacies all the more important in enabling charities to keep their frontline services going.

“HMCTS recognises how much the sector relies on gifts in Wills and we are hugely grateful for their continued commitment to work with us to resolve the backlog. This commitment not only helps charities to forecast future income, but to plan their vital services going forward."

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