Estatesearch: Q&A with Kathryn Spencer

Estatesearch are a market leading legal technology provider and has been pioneering new data and technology to help private client practitioners identify assets and liabilities since 2018. 

In a recent customer survey, 70% of respondents stated Estatesearch had helped them identify assets that they would have been otherwise unaware of.  We spoke to Kathryn Spencer who works in Estatesearch’s new business team to find out more.

Q1) How have you seen approaches to asset & liability searches change in recent times?

Estatesearch was set up five years ago.  We now work with 5,500 solicitors in 1800 firms.  With everything going digital, it is becoming increasingly difficult for private client practitioners to identify all the assets in the deceased’s estate.  We offer a Financial Profile Service which gives executors, beneficiaries, deputies and attorneys peace of mind through comprehensive, efficient and demonstrable due diligence that mitigates risk and cost of missed assets or liabilities.

In the past, private client practitioners have tended only to use asset and liability searches in more complex probate cases.  However, in a recent customer survey, 70% of our clients stated that Estatesearch had helped them identify assets that they would have been otherwise unaware of.  We are now seeing a move where the most forward-thinking firms have a policy of implementing asset and liability searches for every case.

The good news for legal firms, is that better tech is available these days and searches can be carried out at a very reasonable cost quickly, so it’s easy to implement a best practice approach where asset and liability searches are completed as standard on every case.

Q2) Have you any examples of where assets have been discovered?

Yes, many!  We recently worked with Jones Whyte solicitors to complete a full asset and liability search on behalf of a vulnerable individual whose partner had passed away.  Within four weeks, we had uncovered five asset holders in addition to utilities and credit cards which the firm were previously unaware of.  The estate that has been uncovered is substantial with the potential of being worth £1 million.

We’d like to change the mindset of firms, so they order asset and liability searches as a matter of course.  This enables firms to demonstrate their due diligence, with the report providing an audit trail to show that steps have been taken to identify the full extent of the estate. It also helps to mitigate any risk of litigation for the firm if assets are otherwise discovered at a later date.

Q3) What other services does Estatesearch offer?

Asset and liability searches are just one aspect of our work.  We also offer a range of additional services including: Trustee Notices (both in The Gazette and local newspapers), Will Searches, ID Checking and Bankruptcy searches both in the UK and overseas, Unoccupied Property Insurance and Early Distribution Insurance.   With no registration or subscription fees, our customers simply pay for the disbursements they need, when they need them.

Many firms find our share valuation service helpful too as this can otherwise be a particularly time-consuming process.  We also offer a range of share services including valuation, verification and sales and transfer, all of which are handled by our in-house Securities team led by Sian Flanagan who has more than 25 years’ experience in dealing with shareholdings.

Q4) Does it save legal firms time when ordering through Estatesearch?

We like to make life easy for our clients. We have developed a user-friendly, secure online portal where every user has a login to see their cases and those of their colleagues. The Estatesearch Portal was the first dedicated online platform integrating Asset Searches, Will Searches, Gazette Notices and Local Advertisements all in one place.  We have also recently added new services including a Digital Assets search and biometric ID checking.

Of course, it varies from firm to firm but on average, we have seen a 25-minute time saving per case, 80% more efficient than previous processes.  Overall, 87% of clients have rated our Portal as excellent or good for time-saving purposes.

Q5) Technology can be complicated!  How does Estatesearch support legal firms?

Our technology isn’t complicated at all. However, we always say that our approach isn’t just about tech. We’ve grown our team hugely over the last five years to provide customers with the best customer service possible. We have a fantastic customer success team, and each client is allocated a dedicated regional account manager to assist when needed.   We also provide training and CPD directly to our law firms as well as hosting regular webinars .  As an organisation, we value our clients’ feedback and proactively use this to refine and improve our processes.  We also provide resources and wording for firms to pass on to clients to explain why we do what we do fully.  We’ve also recently become ISO27001 accredited which ensures we have processes in place to protect the best interests of those we work with.

As a team, we are very client driven and always work to put customers first.   In our recent client satisfaction survey, we were rated excellent or good by 97% of our clients, while 100% of respondents also stated that they would recommend Estatesearch.

For further information please see:

This article was submitted to be published by Estatesearch as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.

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