Does Your Will Bank Comply with GDPR?

 In Wills

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In the last few years, technology has been slowly transforming the private client sector, a traditionally paper-based profession. The Pandemic meant that practitioners had to embrace new solutions. However, digitisation brings its own challenges, particularly when it comes to managing and maintaining data.

Article 5 of the UK GDPR sets out seven key principles, one of which requires organisations to ensure personal data ‘is accurate and where necessary kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate having regard for the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay. Providers of professional services are considered to be ‘data controllers’, gathering and storing a client’s personal information in order to provide them with a service.

The challenge for legal firms managing Will Banks is that data becomes out of date quickly if not managed effectively, and for any firm offering Will Writing services, it is likely they have a sizable database of customer information on file.

People’s circumstances can change often. We move house, get married, possibly divorced and inevitably pass away. Without regular monitoring of address changes and mortality, the database could contain hundreds, if not thousands, of incorrect and out-of-date records, potentially breaching GDPR regulations. Unmaintained data also causes a lack of clarity for potential probate work within a law firm’s existing client pipeline.

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This passive approach is reflected in our recent consumer survey of 2,000 UK residents, which found that 64% of people with a Will had re-written it, but often (in 20% of cases) with a different provider. If clients aren’t returning to provide updates to their Will, just how much work are probate practitioners missing? Luckily, technology can provide a solution.

Estatesearch focuses on helping legal firms take advantage of technology to streamline processes and comply with regulatory requirements. We have spent the past 18 months incorporating client feedback and developing a simple, cost-effective data management tool which initially provides a health check of the testator database enabling firms to see the percentage of out-of-date records and review the next steps. Our new Will Bank Management service now helps firms maintain the health and integrity of their Will Bank while also maximizing the opportunity for probate work at the same time. A three-phase process of screening, cleansing, and notification ensures ongoing compliance with GDPR, with several legal firms already reaping the benefits.

Our bespoke application interface (API) uses information from key data partners to complete the initial screen prior to the cleansing phase. Deceased subjects are identified, and incorrect addresses rectified. Unmatched records which may need further review are also identified. The optional ongoing monitoring phase notifies firms of life events which may impact files and allows databases to be updated.

Uniquely, we accept different formats of Will Banks, including any configuration of an Excel spreadsheet to map with our software for cleansing. This makes it easy for law firms to take steps to manage the data contained in their Will Banks.

Estatesearch’s Will Bank Management Service also reduces overheads in relation to ‘return to senders’ and ad hoc database administration in addition to reducing off site storage costs for invalid or deceased Wills.
Sam Cash, Practice Manager, Bennett Oakley, stated: “As one of the first users of Estatesearch’s Will Bank Management Service, I can honestly say we are very impressed.
We now have a more confident understanding of our Will Bank data and can trust that it’s up to date. This is proving to be very useful. Because of the work that Estatesearch have carried out, we can very quickly identify relevant opportunities to speak to clients, all whilst keeping on the right side of GDPR.”

Estatesearch also offers a range of additional services, including Asset and Liability searches, Trustee Notices, Overseas & UK Bankruptcy Searches, Unoccupied Property Insurance, Early Distribution Insurance and Share Valuations. All accessed through our secure online portal, with no registration or subscription fees, our customers simply pay for the disbursements they need, when they need them.

Clients regularly comment on the ease of use of our technology and ordering system and our approach to customer service. In our recent client survey of over 200 respondents, we were delighted that 98% rated their overall experience with Estatesearch as excellent or good, and 100% would recommend us. Our team are always ready to discuss the individual needs of law firms looking to manage their Will Banks more effectively and discuss any of our other services.

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