The Changing Role Of Technology In Wills And Estate Planning

Technology has changed the way the world communicates with each other. Its impact has been colossal, fast paced and is only increasing.

Legal technology is starting to become a major consideration for many people in Wills and Estate Planning, acting as a driving force for increased efficiency and profitability.

Having provided legal services in Wills and Estate Planning for over 20 years, Clive Ponder TEP, Founding Director of Countrywide Tax and Trust Corporation Ltd, Countrywide Legacy and Willmaker Direct, has taken the time to discuss how the role of technology has developed and how it may evolve in the future.

How was technology used by Will writers and estate planners ten years ago?

Ten years ago, most Will writers used a simplistic piece of software and heavily relied on written notes, paper instruction sheets, and rekeying data numerous times. It was an inefficient way of working and there was a lot of room for errors. The software wasn’t intuitive, and the clauses had to be selected yourself whilst referencing a book such as Parkers Will’s Precedents. In many instances, you had to free type your own clauses as there wasn’t one available for every client’s individual situation.

Unfortunately, many companies continue to use paper-based systems to run their business. Using paper is not only becoming an increasing problem for profits and turnaround time, but it also has a huge impact on client satisfaction. We must realise that the old ways aren’t necessarily the best ways!

How is technology being used in the sector at the moment?

The legal sector is now catching up to our clients’ expectations and there are increasingly more companies beginning to look at systems which are more intuitive, delivering their services more efficiently by working electronically.

The world is changing and paper management systems are becoming a thing of the past, so we do not want to concentrate on improving these types of inefficient systems. We need to miss this stage entirely and move to paperless systems urgently. Many companies have realised that failing to move with the times will mean they will be left behind.

What impact is technology having on the sector?

The introduction of new technology and an electronic way of working into the sector has encouraged businesses to grow and provide a better service to clients, whilst saving precious time and money.

Businesses are realising that implementing the latest technology into their practice is a better, faster, easier, more efficient and less costly way of working to produce legal documents for their clients. If there are any businesses out there that have not made the change, you need to make the shift now or risk losing business.

Why should will writers and estate planners be embracing technology and how will it improve their business?

Owing to massive improvements with security, functionality and scalability, many legal companies in this digital age are rapidly converting to working electronically. Going paperless will not only improve client satisfaction but it will also streamline operations, cut costs and save precious time. Many businesses are utilising this time saved to expand by providing additional products and services, which further increases profits and client retention.

If you want to streamline your business and improve your client’s experience, you need to adopt a completely paperless legal document drafting system.

With our legal document drafting software, Countrywide Legacy, it’s simple. You do not need to produce a single piece of paper throughout the whole instruction taking process, saving you hours of administration time and a faster document turn around for your clients, increasing your client satisfaction. Our software allows you to create electronic order notes, to-do task lists and even draw digital illustrations.

How do you think technology will develop in the future and what role will it play in Wills and Estate Planning services?

My understanding is that the use of electronic signatures on Trusts and LPAs at some point will change – so it’s a matter of ‘when’ not an ‘if’. When this occurs, you surely aren’t going to stay with wet signatures? Countrywide Legacy have already prepared for this inevitable technological leap forwards by incorporating the use of electronic signatures on documents, so when we are given the green light, our software users will be ready to take advantage.

Overall, businesses will only adopt technology if it improves efficiency, saves money, improves client experience or protects the business and clients in some way. Products that create a more streamline holistic journey for the client and business are likely to become more prevalent in the future. Completely unique to the legal industry, our latest development, the ‘Will Clarity Package’, utilises software to automatically compile a Will Clarity Statement and Statement of Execution which fully satisfies the ‘why, when, where, how and what’ when it comes to your clients Will, their wishes and the surrounding circumstances. This helps protect your business by reducing the risk of a successful challenge. This also ensures you are providing your clients with the best possible service, assisting in giving “the deceased a voice” if the Will was ever challenged.

Has your business successfully embraced technology? What have been the impacts of these technological additions to your business? Do you operate without the use of technology, opting for a more person driven business model? 

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