Part 2 – Keeping client trust: when is it acceptable to use technology in offering legal probate services?

Part 2 – Keeping client trust: when is it acceptable to use technology in offering legal probate services?

Part 1 of this series discussed how new research produced by the Legal Services Board and the Solicitors Regulation Authority has uncovered the attitudes of the public and solicitors towards using technology within legal services.

The results showed much concern from both parties regarding data security, the impact of replacing humans with technology and digital exclusion for those less able to use or access technology. However, the report didn’t challenge the fact that both parties see the benefits of technology for enhancing the services provided by firms to the benefit of clients.

This article will delve into the ways legal services firms can overcome the fears associated with modern technology to increase its usage in the Wills & Probate sector, to the benefit and safety of all?

Improving the perception of legaltech

As with any industry, technology should never be implemented for technologies sake. There must always be a use case that keeps the client in mind. When considering technology within probate, where clients are already facing difficult times, the use case should be to make their experience with you as smooth as possible by enhancing your service levels to their convenience, without putting them at risk.

But with every case different, it is the responsibility of the legal service to be flexible, particularly when it comes to technology.

Overcoming the “lack of human” element

Throughout the bereavement process, consumers should be kept up to date with their loved one’s case as often as possible to prevent the confusion or worry that often leads to them chasing for information. While automated update emails might feel like the obvious solution, the SRA report found that individuals were “particularly concerned at the idea of fully automated systems giving advice and making decisions”. They preferred technology was used to support legal services, not replace.

Technology can be used to support legal services in a multitude of ways – from automating digital communications with the notifier to ensure they remain up to date with the stage of a case, to speeding up administration processes like form filling by the legal professional, and to search for assets of their loved ones faster and more reliably.

Where professionals might wish to be cautious with their use of technology is in their detailed updates with the notifier – from updating on the particulars of a case, to providing that personal touch when a case ends – to drive confidence that the notifier is dealing with a professional, not a computer. It would be prudent to keep certain communications to personalised letters or meetings to drive experience and enhance wellbeing.

Overcoming digital exclusion

The report found that “legal technology is seen as less acceptable for those less confident online or those with low literacy in English. However, there may be benefits for those who find it harder to travel to access legal services (including those with disabilities, living rurally and with caring responsibilities”.

Again, the use of technology here needs to be flexible. At the start of any legal service, professionals must consider asking the consumer how they would prefer to receive their communications. As where email responses may be fine for some – e.g. those less able to travel, they might be less-so for those individuals that struggle to access or use a mobile device such as a phone or a laptop.

Overcoming data security and cybercrime

Every-day, cybercriminals are becoming smarter and more tactical with their attacks on data. Combine this with the unpredictability of modern hardware and legal professionals should realise that consumer concerns around data are very real and not to be ignored.

Nowadays 39% of legal professionals still rely on common office tools stored on their hardware devices to manage cases, putting their clients at risk.

Modern software applications for managing cases like probate have now been built to address these issues, by living and breathing in the cloud. Applications stored in the cloud are constantly scanned for vulnerabilities to prevent risk before it happens and ensure the most secure storage of data.

But that’s not all – the benefits of cloud software for legal professionals is that it scales with demand without any user impact, runs continuously if an element of that application fails and is continuous redeployed.

In today’s technological world it is key that professionals turn to this software to manage their cases – while educating clients on the reliability of these solutions to protect their data.

In summary

Many of the concerns among professionals and consumers when it comes to the use of technology can easily be addressed by professionals using the most secure technology to manage cases, handling its usage correctly (i.e. being flexible to client needs) and providing education where there are gaps in knowledge around technology and its safety. By overcoming these concerns, all parties can reap the benefits that we know technology provides.

Professionals must be willing to learn more about how consumers want to be communicated with, as the use of technology in one setting, might not be as suitable in another. To build confidence, consumers need to know you are there to support them by whatever means they’re comfortable with – and that you have the correct safeguards in place to protect them.

As stated in the SRA report:

“Building public confidence comes partly through reassurance around governance and regulation: that standards are in place to protect the public from risks.

Other important safeguards relate to ensuring that the same (high) standards and rules that currently affect the delivery of legal services apply to services delivered using technology, including quality and user-friendliness; systems for complaints and redress; and transparency over data use.

Beyond this, confidence comes through providing people with support to understand and use technology. This is strongly felt amongst legal professionals.”

Technology can and should be used to support the handling of probate processes, as long as the use case is clear on the value it brings. However, in aspects like digital communications, consumers should always be educated and reassured about the use of technology but also provided with an alternative if they so with.

Exizent’s software has been created with all parties involved in the bereavement process in mind – the legal services firm dealing with a case, the financial institutions managing case assets, and the consumer.

Our cloud software can help overcome both the concerns of the professionals and the consumers mentioned in the public confidence report, while providing the benefits of lower case costs, enhanced speed efficiencies, quality data from trusted sources and constant protection from cyberthreat.

Find out how our software can help you uphold your standards of service, while reaping the benefits of legal technologies to better serve your customers – schedule a free demo with us now.

Source: Social acceptability of technology in legal services report 2022

This article was submitted to be published by Exizent 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.

Exizent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exizent is the industry platform for professionals involved with managing the bereavement process.

Learn the ins-and-outs of Exizent in this quick introductory video:

Exizent connects the data and services used by legal services firms, institutions and executors when someone passes away, to make the journey for the bereaved an easier one. Exizent’s mission is to help everybody reduce uncertainty in the process, increase the speed to resolution, and make the bereavement process more straightforward for everyone involved.

Specially design for legal teams, our straightforward cloud-based platform allows you and your team to start your probate or confirmation journey, without the need for intensive training or complicated configuration.

  • Collaboration and remote working

Easily create and manage all your cases in one place, assigning members of your team to work together with more clarity and efficiency. Capture all estate information in easy to navigate cases, adding details on people, assets, and liabilities.

  • Simplify Estate discovery

Access a deceased individual’s financial information in real time, from bank accounts to mortgages, directly on the platform at the click of a button, simplifying your estate discovery.

  • Quickly generate legal forms

Automatically produce fully or partially completed Court and Inheritance Tax forms from the data within your case, reducing rekeying and the potential for errors being made. From complex financial calculations to reformatting data, our platform greatly reduces the time taken to complete your forms.

  • Dedicated support

We ensure your team have the support they need. Our knowledgeable Customer Success team have the training and knowledge you need to take advantage of industry changes and digitisation within your existing workflows and processes.

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