What Tech Does The Modern Estate & Wills Practice Need?

What Tech Does The Modern Estate & Wills Practice Need?

Ari Brojde
October 12, 2023

1. Practice Management Solutions

Practice management solutions are systems that help legal practitioners manage day-to-day workflows and business operations, allowing them to store information about the firm's matters, contacts, calendars, documents, tasks, time tracking, billing, payments, accounting, and more

Any comprehensive practice management software will have a contact management component to it, allowing you -  or anyone else at the firm with access - to get a quick overview of your firm's clients and contacts, their connected matters, documents, transactions, and bills. You'll be able to keep client information organized to ensure no follow-up, detail, or interaction is missed - whether across email, phone, or in-person meetings. 

For example, if George comes to your firm for estate-related services, your practice management platform would detail George's contact info, matter-specific information and more. It would also store every correspondence between George and your staff, whether an articling student, lawyer or support staff. Thus, if the file changes hands or remains inactive for a duration, all the information is ready to help the next or returning person understand what's going on.

The client intake process is an essential step for any law firm. A practice management system can help collect and store such information. You can ensure more junior associates remember to ask the most important questions during intake by making such questions mandatory in the profile-creation process. And if the senior lawyer on the file needs an update, there's no need to call - they can pull up the client profile on the practice management system and see the progress instead. 

Some firms may even keep documents related to the matter in their practice management solution or integrate a separate software for document management into their practice management solution. That's why a practice management system is vital for your firm to manage day-to-day operations effectively. 

Some of the top Practice Management Solutions available:

Clio (Visit website)

Clio is a legal technology company headquartered in Burnaby, British Columbia. Clio offers law firms cloud-based software that handles various law practice management tasks including client intake, contact management, calendaring, document management, timekeeping and more.

uLaw (Visit website)

The Canadian cloud-based solution has integrated one-click form automation, simplified trust and general accounting capabilities, and robust matter analytics to enhance law offices across the country. Since its inception, uLawPractice has enabled paralegals and lawyers across Canada to reduce their costs as well as increase revenue by converting unbillable to billable time.

LexCloud (Visit website)

LexCloud.ca's Private Cloud completely replaces your onsite server room with high availability, secure systems hosted in a world-class Canadian data centre. Their virtual desktops deliver the best remote work experience available, enabling you to be 100% productive with access all of your files, email and software from any location.

2. Online Payment Tools 

All lawyers and law firms should have the ability to process credit card payments from their clients. The feature is no longer a luxury –the client experience demands it. Online payment methods are also more secure and trustworthy than these older methods or payments via cash. 

A key concern when choosing a provider is protecting your Trust account. Payment processing software built for lawyers ensures that processing fees will be taken from your operating account rather than your trust account. So you can deposit unearned money into your trust account without having first to move the processing fees into the trust account to cover those charges. You can also choose to deposit earned money into your operating account. Payment processing software programs not built for law firms instead deduct processing fees from the funds' account initially deposited.

Some of the leading law firm specific tools are: 

Lawpay (Visit website)

For more than a decade, LawPay's online payment technology has been trusted to help law firms get paid easier, more securely, and 39% faster. More importantly, LawPay ensures your firm accepts payments in compliance with ABA and IOLTA guidelines.

Headnote (Visit website)

Headnote drives increased profitability and efficiency where it matters most - getting paid and tracking client satisfaction. From getting paid faster to automating AR management and NPS tracking, Headnote ensures your firm will beat its collection and revenue goals.

3. Estate Planning and Administration Software 

While practice management systems and online payment tools are essential to all law firms, more and more solutions focus specifically on estate practices. Estate planning and administration software tools can turn formerly manual processes digital, keeping firms more organized and efficient.

eStatePlanner (Visit website)

Modern and cloud-based estate planning tools such as eStatePlanner allow estate professionals to easily and collaboratively draft estate planning documents. Key client information is collected via a simple digital questionnaire delivered through a secure portal.  Information about testators' assets and liabilities, their families and other beneficiaries, executors and guardians are securely captured. The Will planning process is then done collaboratively with the client: bequests are created by dragging and dropping assets through an intuitive interface capable of handling the most complicated client situations and fact patterns.

When a client dies, they leave behind a plethora of digital assets, which are essentially any record in digital forms — such as documents, accounts, photographs, emails and social media posts. And as its digital footprint continues to expand (according to industry expert Sharon Hartung, the average person passes away owning more than 100 online accounts), so does the importance of managing digital assets while alive.  Digital assets unaccounted for in an estate plan can present a major challenge for executors; uncovering the extent of a person's life online and securing those assets can be more challenging than working with physical assets. 

Online tools such as ReadyWhenSidedrawer, and Clocr allow for estate planning professionals to offer secure portals through which clients can record digital assets and store important legal documents while alive - and then provide a mechanism through which this information can be shared with loved ones or executors when they pass, significantly reducing the digital asset discovery process the executor must undertake upon death.

Estateably (Learn more)

Finally, modern estate administration tools such as Estateably allow you to enter information about the deceased, their assets and liabilities, and beneficiaries and financial transactions in one place. This allows professionals to enter estate-specific information once to automatically generate any legal forms, precedents and reports required to administer an estate.

This level of automation can save lawyers and legal staff significant amounts of time while avoiding mistakes and typos and can help you get organized by reminding you of critical dates and providing automated to-do lists in the administration process.  The efficiency that estate administration software tools provide can ultimately help reduce costs for your clients and improve profits for your firm. 

Many of these tools offer customizations to suit your work style so that you're not forced into a new workflow. And most modern tools, including the ones described above, are built to integrate seamlessly with your firms' existing systems. 

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