Six ways the probate process is not fit for purpose – as told by legal professionals

Six ways the probate process is not fit for purpose – as told by legal professionals

From unknown assets and hefty fees, to delays from third parties that lead to lengthy case timescales, the probate/confirmation process is far from simple. This is why, in 2021, 52% of legal professionals felt their firm could handle probate more efficiently.

Exizent’s annual Bereavement Index last year demonstrated ways in which the process is not sufficient for driving business efficiencies and supporting consumers and has helped highlight key areas for development.

To have your say in the 2022 Bereavement Index and be in with a chance of winning a £100 Amazon voucher, click here.

Below are six areas legal service professionals should be focused on now.

1) The time conundrum – probate processes are lengthy and inefficient

The average time taken to administer an estate is five months; this extends to six when assets are unknown and in 9% of cases, surpasses a year. Yet, when coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, constant stress and reminders about their passing will only have an adverse impact on their mental wellbeing. Clearly, it’s time to start looking at ways to speed up case resolution by uncovering assets faster and more reliably, and working more closely with institutions like banks to ease the stress on the bereaved.

2) The financial imperative – one in four people suffer financial difficulties when administering someone’s estate

The processes surrounding bereavement are not only upsetting and time consuming, but can be expensive too. While the deceased’s estate can be used to pay for any expenses, the costs surrounding the bereavement process still cost those left behind £1,630 on average – a hefty sum for many.

Shouldn’t we be looking at ways to drive down costs within firm processes to find ways to ease the pressure on grieving individuals?

3) The not-so wellbeing – the true cost of bereavement

The pressures of the admin involved when someone dies can become all-consuming. It’s therefore not surprising that for two in five of us, dealing with the process leads to mental health problems. However, our 2021 Bereavement Index found that only 21% of firms have people trained to help clients who suffer mentally. It’s clear that legal professionals must do more to find ways to provide a more personal service to their clients that lets them give support and empathy at one of the most crucial times in our lives.

4) The reliance on third parties – at least a quarter of probate cases are delayed

31% of law firms have admitted that the main cause of case delay is financial institutions – a stressor that impacts 64% of consumers. Among the top reasons for these delays are slow responses to the legal service that naturally leads to case delays, as well as the institution providing a lack of information that forces back and forth between all parties.

As said by Jim Evans, Director of CapGemini: “customers need to be dealt with efficiently and fairly – a technology-based solution which enables access to relevant data is key to firms administering all customer funds and accounts”. Evidently, firms must start looking for solutions elsewhere that help solve the issue.

5) The internal knowledge gap – firms think a simpler asset discovery process would improve case efficiencies

97% of solicitors have to rely on the knowledge of the executor and the physical documentation they provide to verify assets and liabilities – 80% of those either mostly or entirely. If the executor is unable to provide that information, this causes delays. This is a concern when considering that 59% of executors are not confident that the will of the person they are executor for is up to date. But if not delays – what’s the alternative? Law firms now are looking for new ways to attain information about a deceased that doesn’t always rely on the knowledge of an often-grieving executor.

6) The communication struggle – 36% of firms think better communication with clients would improve the probate process

Keeping customers in the loop with where you’re at with their case is crucial to reducing uncertainty and improving their customer experience, but it’s not always that simple when juggling a multitude of cases and awaiting information from various sources. In a technological world, it’s sometimes surprising that firms still opt for the traditional letter communication – particularly considering the efficiencies of transferring information over the internet, not to mention the risk-reduction from storing such information in the cloud.

Isn’t it time firms shifted their methods online, to start putting their clients first?

Last year, 87% of consumers found probate stressful. However, legal technologies like Exizent are helping bring this number down significantly by improving asset discovery functionalities in today’s law firms, strengthening communications with third parties to combat delays and speeding up probate processes on the whole to give professionals more time to support bereaved individuals.

Are you making strides to enhance your probate processes? We need you!

Help us identify the work being done in the sector now, and the areas that require more focus to reduce the stress on consumers – have your say in the 2022 Bereavement Index now.

Source: Bereavement Index 2021

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. CLICK HERE to book a zero-obligation demonstration today
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