The probate process is a series of routines that have to be followed to get to the final results. That system can be streamlined by using your IT to get the job done as efficiently as possible so that you are more profitable and the clients are able to see clear progress.
In many firms the step to have standard letters for probate has already been made but in a number even that basic step has not been taken. There is no need to dictate the same letter to your secretary up to 30 times at the start of a probate, the chances are she has typed this letter a million times and could do it without listening.
So, if you have not done so already, you should create a set of standard probate letters that cover the key institutions such as banks, shares, registrars, state and private pension providers, life insurance companies and house and car insurance companies. That way you can for example simply say “bank 1 letter” when dictating and give a list of the organisations you want this sent to along with the relevant account numbers etc.
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Speeding up the process
However, there are more shortcuts that can be created with some IT help. How about if once the data for the various assets was entered your secretary could simple automatically generate the letters and just insert the details for the deceased once. All the addresses could be entered (automatically) and the computer would know if you wanted a bank or a life insurance letter. The software retains these details and when you get the grant of representation the collection letters can be heading out the door in the blink of an eye. That is not including the chasers that you may need in between for those organisations that just seem to take forever to reply.
You are getting all the letters written and you are doing the job the difference now is that you can do the job in half the time so that you can actually handle more probates and be more efficient. The information should all be on a central system so that when the executors call for an update both you and your secretary can instantly tell the executors which organisations you are chasing for replies.
This makes you more proactive so clients find you friendly and informative at what is usually a difficult time for them. The capture of information as soon as it is received to a central point on the computer means that you are building all the information you need to complete any tax forms that are relevant to both the Inheritance Tax and the probate paperwork. This of course does rely on accurate entry when the information is received.
There are a number of probate systems on the market but having evaluated these for a number of firms they sadly all seem to have flaws and a number of the companies seem to think that as lawyers you should buy their system and then help them develop it!
If you would rather not be a guinea pig, but you need some help in simplifying your probate processes to save time, become more efficient and more responsive to the client, then please do contact us. Release some of that locked-in work-in-progress and improve your bottom line.
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