Bereavement Index reveals probate process is ‘slow and inefficient’

  • 88% of legal professionals think the bereavement process is ‘slow and inefficient’
  • Professionals say waiting for financial institutions is biggest cause of delays, causing 64% of their clients to become stressed
  • 40% of those who recently lost someone say their mental health was affected by dealing with the administrative side of their death

The estates administration process is ‘slow and inefficient’ and is causing stress, frustration, and even mental health issues for those involved, according to findings from Exizent, the first-ever platform that connects data, services and the network of people involved when someone dies.

In its first annual Bereavement Index, which looks at the legal and financial responsibilities that come with handling bereavement, Exizent has discovered that 88% of legal professionals think the probate process is slow and inefficient.

Exizent’s research also found that 36% of consumers said dealing with the administrative side of death was harder than they’d expected; 95% found the process stressful, with one in five becoming ‘extremely stressed’. Worryingly, 40% even saw their mental health decline as a result.

Legal professionals themselves are well aware of the issues; 52% admit the time it takes is unreasonable and 64% say their clients become stressed by the process, with 39% saying that in at least half of bereavement cases, their clients need emotional support from someone within the firm.

Things are not helped by the fact that just 4% of people dealing with the bereavement process knew ‘a lot’ about the administration involved before they started, while a third (33%) knew ‘absolutely nothing’.

And while one in four legal professionals are resigned to the fact the probate process doesn’t work as efficiently as it should, 75% think there are things that could be done to improve it, including better relationships with financial institutions and dedicated probate software.

Financial institutions are the main causes of delays

According to legal professionals, at least 25% of probate cases are delayed. Almost eight in ten (78%) say financial institutions are a major cause of delay, with 31% saying they are the single main cause; most (53%) have to wait at least four weeks for asset and liability providers to respond.

And this is exacerbated further by the fact that 95% of professionals are relying on the deceased and their families to provide the information they need for asset discovery, but less than half of their clients’ loved one had all their affairs in order when they died.

Overall, 37% of all accounts are only discovered during the probate process, and it takes 60% longer to complete the process if the person’s affairs were not in order.

The solution – technology and better communication

When asked what would improve the probate process for themselves and their clients, 44% of law firms said better communication and relationships with financial institutions, 49% said an easier asset discovery process and 41% said better technology.

However, while just 15% of law firms use dedicated probate software – mainly due to lack of awareness – 64% of said they would consider a dedicated platform for managing their probate, and 22% said investment in technology is their highest ranked priority for the next 12 months, second only to client attraction (45%).

Nick Cousins, Founder and CEO of Exizent said:

“Communication between executors, financial institutions and law firms is a vital part of the probate process but has been overlooked for some time. The Bereavement Index re-enforces this, with 44% of firms highlighting that better communication would improve their day-to-day work. We believe the administrative tasks facing families after the death of a loved one should be far easier, and that modern technology solutions and services can make this a reality.”

Exizent is building the first ever platform that connects data, services and the network of people involved when someone passes away, making it easier for legal services firms and institutions to work together, making their own processes more efficient and removing the burden from the bereaved.

Cousins continues:

“We also believe in the power of platforms to connect people better and perform repeatable tasks efficiently, quickly and securely at scale. That is why we have created a dedicated platform for probate professionals, to help them make their processes more efficient which will ultimately relieve the emotional and financial burden that administering estate has on the bereaved.
“Our research proves the important role Exizent is already playing in the industry. By connecting firms and institutions in a meaningful way, our platform will fill important gaps, speed up processes, and allow everyone involved to work together more seamlessly.”

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