Technology in the Wills & Probate Sector

Technology in the Wills & Probate Sector

The Probate sector has historically leant more towards traditional processes and practices as its preferred method of operation.

However, 2020 certainly shook things up and, I think it is fair to say, we all now know that technology is the key to thriving in the future. This article looks at some of the tech your firms should consider adopting in this changing landscape.

Better Case Management

There are still many firms that either do not have a case management system (CMS), or do not use their CMS to its fullest potential. A good CMS that is effectively utilised can: streamline processes and administrative tasks; provide oversight and analysis of files for use by management; and assist with business continuity in many ways.

It is important to remember that CMS systems are often only as good as the information that’s inputted into them. They require staff who are willing and eager to adapt to, explore and promote the proper use of the system – even when the initial setup can feel laborious at times!

There are lots of CMS products on the market and you will have to find the right one to suit your business needs. Thankfully, most providers will offer a free demonstration or trial to show you the system’s potential, however, be wary as lots offer a very basic package as standard and will charge additional fees for the functions you really want!

Reduce Drafting Time

There are also many software providers that can produce documents like Wills in a time-efficient way, using the latest guidance and legislation. Some of these providers allow you to completely personalise the experience with your own branding too. Advanced software like Arken or WillSuite can even accommodate ‘real-time’ drafting; meaning that as you complete your questionnaires with your Clients during the meeting, the Will is drafted instantly in the background – dramatically reducing manual drafting time.

Some of this software can double as a CMS system too and you can keep track of where all your leads are coming from, contact Clients for marketing purposes, and keep track of the drafting process at each stage. Some even offer the ability to send text or email updates to your Clients automatically when you reach the next stage.

Reach Broader Audiences

The adoption of technology in the Probate sector has meant we can reach more people than ever before. Previously, we were often limited by location, with Clients and professionals alike preferring to face-to-face meetings. Now it seems most people have adjusted to video-calls, with in-person meetings required for just the most sensitive matters. Meaning you can easily ‘meet’ with Clients all over the world.

We can also use social media to broaden our audience, with some of the more successful firms providing helpful guides, free webinars, video tutorials and more through their channels. Developing a solid presence online requires significant time-investment on the company’s part, however, it can become a reliable source of steady enquiries and providers like Hootsuite or Mailchimp can streamline or automate large parts of it.

Reduce Risk & Complaints

Increasingly, firms are adopting online portals through their websites, keeping Clients updated whilst reducing manual input errors. This is because many of the portals integrate with existing CMS and encourage Clients to enter their own personal details at the outset. Sometimes, the systems allow for new cases to be opened on the CMS via the online portals too.

Provided that staff are correctly utilising the CMS, this can be a simple way of keeping Clients in the loop on their matter, as they can login for the latest updates. This ultimately creates a better Client experience and is more convenient to them than chasing a fee earner directly. Plus, it can free up more time for the fee earner to get on with other things!

Adapt Quickly to the Unexpected

If 2020 has taught us anything it is that the world can be turned upside down in an instant. Some of the services provided by the Probate sector have been deemed ‘key work’ and as such we must continue to provide the same great services under increasing pressure. Mastering technology has been essential to Business Continuity Plans and has ensured the smooth and continued running of operations. If you haven’t invested in any of the above tech, then you should seriously consider doing so!

The Human Element

But, all that being said and done, we must not underappreciate the value of human contact in the type of work we do. We should be careful not to rely on technology so completely that we become estranged from Clients, especially at times when they might feel alone, lost or overwhelmed with grief. For this is the true worth of Probate sector specialists.

Jade Gani, Solicitor, Head of Wills and Probate at Aston Bond

Jade is a STEP Affiliate Member, SFE Member and the proud winner of the British Wills & Probate Awards 2020 Young Practitioner of the Year award. She has headed up the Private Client department at Aston Bond Law Ltd since 2017 and regularly takes part in sector webinars, training, roundtables and more. Jade is also the proud co-founder of The Wishing Will Foundation, a Community Interest Company that provides free Wills to support legacies to local hospices and charities in the Thames Valley.