Technology in probate
“How has the role of technology in probate evolved over time to provide a better service for clients, and how do you predict technology in this space will continue to change in the years to come?”
Traditionally, the probate department is the last to become automated in law firms. This is for a variety of reasons and is often not viewed as a fast-paced and profitable part of the business. In fact, a lot of firms don’t use automation in probate when they should, especially given the high level of document production involved.
There is also a perceived fear that by using a practice management system you lose that all-important personal touch when practising probate and that handling matters and dealing with clients appropriately under difficult circumstances may be lost with automation.
However, innovative technology is allowing law firms to perform complex transactions efficiently and at minimum cost, improving service for clients and helping to build a healthy probate offering.
Automation of legal forms and precedents is making life easier for law firms as it prevents errors and delays in correspondence and enables greater collaboration between solicitor and client. Adopting a cloud-based practice management solution means solicitors can bring all their matter details into a single estate account document, saving themselves hours of reconciliations and also reducing the labour-intensive time involved in heavy document production. Lawyers can also manage matters via their smartphone or tablet, enabling complete mobility and helping them to meet their clients’ needs efficiently and with all the relevant matter information to hand.
Looking forward to the future of probate within law firms, I believe solicitors will be required to submit all forms for Inheritance Tax through online solutions and government portals. So, inevitably, more law firms will be adopting cloud-based practice management solutions to allow them to do this, streamlining their process from start to finish.
Also, I would expect to see a greater reliance on document management systems such as LawConnect for future wills handling. This will remove the need to store large archives of wills, gathering dust within law firms. Instead, they will be held in the cloud, organised and accessible 24/7 for both the client and solicitor.