Solicitors rely on information from deceased’s family for probate, but most people die without putting their affairs in order

  • 95% of probate professionals rely either entirely or somewhat on information from their clients to verify assets and liabilities
  • 23% of people die without a will and most do not leave their affairs in order
  • It takes one and a half times as long to complete probate if the person’s affairs were not in order
  • Free Wills Month offers people over 55 an opportunity to get their affairs in order

Most solicitors rely on the information and knowledge of the family of the deceased to complete probate, yet most people die without ensuring their affairs are in order, according to research from probate experts, Exizent.

Exizent’s Probate Prospects report found that more than nine in ten solicitors rely on information from their clients to verify assets and liabilities, with 40% saying they rely almost entirely on client knowledge; just 5% say they don’t.

However, despite an overwhelming dependence on the deceased to have left all the relevant information and instructions behind, the vast majority do not have their affairs in order and almost a quarter don’t have a will.

Exizent’s research also reveals that the administration of an estate takes one and a half times longer if the deceased’s affairs were not in order as solicitors, executors and families struggle with the administration involved in trying to identify and access all their assets.

Key stats:

  • 95% of probate professionals rely on information from their clients to verify assets and liabilities, 40% almost entirely
  • 14% of people dealing with probate said they were not aware of all of the deceased’s assets 
  • 71% of solicitors said that at least half of their clients died without putting their affairs in order

According to solicitors, the main reason for probate delays is waiting for institutions to get back to them, an issue that has also been highlighted by consumer group Which? Their research revealed that banks are failing bereaved families with delays and admin errors.

Nick Cousins, founder and CEO of Exizent, said:

“Sadly, the probate process has not been fit for purpose for some time, and our Probate Prospects report shows that even the legal professionals working in the area agree, with the vast majority saying they feel the process does not work as it should, admitting the time it takes to complete probate is unacceptable.

“Like the Which? research, we also found that the main issue is the administration involved, with most legal professionals saying the time it takes for financial institutions to get back to them with the information they need is the main cause of delays.”

Free Wills Month is a great opportunity for people to start thinking about getting their affairs in order; Nick says that, while writing a Will will undoubtedly help those left behind, technology that can automate and speed-up the probate process offers an equally important part of the solution.

He said:

“Having an up to date will and making sure all your financial affairs are in order is really important and helps those left behind to administer your estate. However, even when people do have their affairs in order, it still takes 3 months on average to complete probate, one of the major issues being problems with communication and identifying and accessing to assets.

“There is, therefore, a huge opportunity to harness the technology and data already available to create a better system, so that loved ones are not faced with huge delays at what is already a hugely difficult time.

“We have created a platform which connects solicitors and financial institutions to enable professionals to complete the probate process without having to rely on the family of the deceased, many of whom are already suffering the emotional burden of a bereavement.  We are also pushing for open finance to be the same for those who have passed as those who are alive, so that eventually asset discovery can be completed at the touch of a button.”

This article was submitted to be published by Exizent as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills & Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills & Probate.

Today's Wills and Probate