Research published by Exizent this October has found that an increasing number of people are passing away without putting their affairs in order – putting strain on the bereavement process and more importantly, the notifier.
Each year, estates become more complex with newer and more diverse assets to invest in, from online bank accounts, digital currencies and social media profiles to new cars, houses and jewellery. This fact, combined with the bereavement processes left behind for notifiers, such as registering the death and managing the funeral, speak to a complicated process with lots of moving parts to manage.
The process, therefore, is complicated enough, without throwing an outdated will into the mix. However, in 2022, an increase in 9% of people have been found to have hidden assets at the start of the estate administration process. Now, almost a quarter of people don’t have their affairs in order before they die and 5% of people have none of their affairs in order, meaning none of their assets are documented before the start of the estate administration process. This leaves it to the legal professional, financial services institutions and will executor handling their case to uncover these assets. Or so we might have thought.
Research from the 2022 Bereavement Index has actually found that when it comes to uncovering estate assets, legal professionals rely on the notifiers of a death quite significantly. 99% of these professionals rely in at least some way on the knowledge of the notifier and the documentation they provide to verify assets and liabilities of an estate. Two thirds admit that they rely “mostly” on this knowledge. Yet with 99% of notifiers a friend or relative of the person who has passed away, is waiting for them to correctly uncover all information regarding the estate – which they might not know – the most efficient use of time? What’s more, while they are grieving, is this a fair and empathetic responsibility placed on them by the legal professional, considering that the technological solutions available today mean they could share some of this responsibility, while speeding up the process to the benefit of all parties?
When it comes to estate administration, a huge 95% of consumers find the process stressful thanks to the length of time it takes, the financial strain it puts on them and the fact that they’re dealing with this complex process while they are suffering a loss. It’s therefore no surprise that 55% of people now suffer mental health problems from the process. These statistics should raise alarm bells among the legal sector and spur action from professionals to look for ways to overcome the executor reliance they currently hold.
The responsibility of the legal professional
While one useful piece of advice might be to ensure that client wills are constantly reviewed and kept up to date while they are alive, another much simpler solution to the asset discovery issue is to call on digital solutions to solve the problem and ensure that all information attained around an estate is reliable, and externally verified. Speeding up the process by reducing wait times and potential errors and incorrect information, while reducing onus on the notifier.
By utilising digital solutions like Experian data, Exizent helps legal professionals attain useful financial information about a deceased’s bank accounts, mortgages and more at the click of a button, simplifying estate discovery and easing the pressure put on the notifier to uncover these assets. Because considering the impact the process has on consumer mental health and finances, it’s time legal services commit to enhancing their practices to benefit the consumer and themselves.
Simplifying estate discovery
Dedicated estate administration software like Exizent is helping law firms speed up processes like asset discovery by integrating with third party data providers to uncover unknown assets of a deceased and secure any key data with cybersecurity features within our cloud software. Leaving legal professionals with the capability to speed up the time they spend uncovering lost assets and waiting for notifiers.
Find out how Exizent can help enhance your asset discovery processes.
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.