Wills and Probate | Certainty National Will Register Blog

Stephensons Solicitors LLP: “We register all Wills. It’s good for our firm and our clients value the protection..”

June 26th, 2014

stephensons-solicitors

Stephensons Solicitors LLP is a full service law firm with offices in Altrincham, Bolton, Leigh, London, Manchester, St Helens and Wigan. Rob Gore, now Wills & Probate Partner, took the decision to join Certainty, as a Founding member, back in 2009.

Rob says “in 2009 Certainty was a ‘good idea’ but had not yet achieved any real recognition, endorsement or credibility. Joining did involve a ‘leap of faith’ at the time but we could see that the services were designed to assist our Wills & Probate work and clients, and we liked the idea of the marketing functions as well”.

Rob Gore

Rob Gore

Since then, Certainty services have become standard process for thousands of practitioners around the UK with Will registration and Will search, in particular, adopted as routine functions to protect the law firm, testator, executors, loved ones and beneficiaries.

Rob continues “Will Registration is an important part of our Will package. We have integrated it into our service, including it as part of the Will price. Client’s can opt out of the service if they wish but no-one does. Why would they? It is a simple, confidential process designed to protect all stakeholders of the Will. We know that, sometimes, an original Will is difficult to trace for many reasons and Will registration is a simple precautionary measure to guard against that. Stephensons regard this as best practice and Professional Indemnity providers see it as good risk management. We register all Wills. It’s good for our firm and our clients value the protection”.

Understandably solicitors are keen to protect client privacy and confidentiality. Some have raised concerns over this issue in relation to Will registration saying “but my client will not want their Will accessible to anyone who wishes to search the National system”. This is not how Certainty works. Rob says “Will registration generates an encrypted, secure record of where the Will is. We always keep the original, registration just records location. When a search takes place, Certainty does not disclose any information to the searcher, rather they inform us of the search, providing us with the searchers details, so that we can take the next step”.

Finally, Rob says “we see Will registration as a simple, effective process to look after the Will, the testator, their family, executors and beneficiaries”.

For more information please contact gerard@certainty.co.uk or call 0845 408 0404

‘Free Will registration? Yes, we had a fantastic response…’

June 19th, 2014

‘Free Will registration? Yes, we had a fantastic response…’

Gavin Glover and Martin Priest, owners of Glover Priest Solicitors, joined Certainty in 2012 having recognised the combined business opportunities and risk management measures available within membership. It was a simple decision for them.

Gavin Glover

Gavin Glover

Glover Priest Logo

Gavin says ‘Our business is formed as a collective of 6 previously independent practices, all with their own Willbanks, so we understood the potential issues arising from Wills not being found, clients ‘losing contact’ with the original Will or beneficiaries not finding us’. He continues, ‘As Wills & Probate practitioners we saw the logic of the National Will Register, though we hadn’t appreciated that the National Will Search service also covers unregistered Wills. This is a major benefit prior to estate distribution and we understand that the question of Certainty now appears on our Professional Indemnity forms’.

Martin explains how they also saw an unexpected benefit, ‘What we found really interesting was the opportunity available to our business and clients through the free Will registration offer. Certainty provided us with free registrations for our entire Willbank and we set about uploading the data onto the TOUCH Willbank Management system, which we did by bringing in a school leaver. This allowed us to offer the free service to our clients and, yes, we had a fantastic response, with around 5,000 of 8,000 clients contacting us to take up the offer. Needless to say many of them needed to review the Will while others asked us to produce an LPA’.

Martin Priest

Martin Priest

Gavin confirmed the impact on the business, ‘we saw this as a excellent opportunity to give something back to our clients, while cleansing our data, strengthening client loyalty and producing business… all at the same time. And many of our clients confirmed the free registration offer was the prompt they needed to contact us to amend and update their Will’.

Certainty helps law firms control and manage their Wills & Probate business while implementing risk management and, so, avoid the increasing risk of negligence or probate claims, which are now 2nd highest in the legal profession and projected to rise. Martin says ‘we, as a business, and our clients, find it reassuring to know that Will registration protects traceability of the Will and, therefore, our probate work, whereas Will search protects us, and executors, from a claim should a Will, or a later Will, be found after distribution’.

For more information please email gerard@certainty.co.uk or call 0845 408 0404

Law Society Private Client Annual Conference & Certainty Expert Webinar with Gill Steel

June 18th, 2014

Don’t the years fly by?! We are once again very pleased to announce our support by sponsoring the Law Society Private Client Section Annual Conference; this is our 6th year running!

It is quite an occasion and a fantastic opportunity for the Certainty team to be able to meet Certainty members face-to-face, and also provide information to those who are interested.

Important Note
The ever-popular Certainty Sheaffer Pens will be making another star appearance this year, but in addition, we have added a rather stylish and very useful stainless steel Certainty thermal flask. Visit the stand and pick up your complimentary flask!

Also…
Did you notice that Certainty has launched a new value added service – Certainty Expert Webinars?
Due to popularity, we have extended the attendee limit for the upcoming, complimentary Certainty Expert Webinar with Gill Steel. Scroll down for details or click here to secure your place.

We look forward to seeing you on the day.

Certainty Expert Webinar: Gill SteelGill Steel

‘the Unknown unknown’

Tuesday 8th July 2014 at 1pm

Certainty Expert Webinars is pleased to provide the opportunity for you to join Gill Steel, LawSkills, for a highly informative, complimentary 1 hour CPD-accredited webinar.

The Aim:

To support probate practitioners in estate administration by considering the particular risks associated with an unknown Will and suggesting some practical approaches to minimise mistakes.

The Agenda:

  1. The unknown Will or intestacy
  2. A little bit of psychology!
  3. The costs of unnecessary litigation
  4. Professional negligence issues – modern expectations

Tools to reduce the risks of litigation & professional negligence.

Secure your place

GUIDANCE NOTE: Advising a client on the need to undertake a Will search using Certainty.

April 21st, 2014

Guidance

GUIDANCE NOTE: Advising a client on the need to undertake a Will search using Certainty.

To help explain to a client the need for a Will search, here is some suggested narrative that you can use when giving advice in your client care letter, on your website or in other marketing materials.

Protection of/for Executors & Administrators – To help explain to a client the need for a Will search, here is some suggested narrative that you can use when giving advice in your client care letter, on your website or in other marketing materials.

Executors and administrators have the legal authority, responsibility and duty to distribute the deceased’s estate and can be held financially responsible for any mistakes made through any breach of duty.

Issues can arise if the estate is distributed on an assumed intestacy basis (without a Will) and a Will comes to light after distribution, or if the estate is distributed in accordance with the Will you hold, then a later Will comes to light.

To help prevent these issues, we advise clients that we undertake a Certainty Will search on their behalf. A Certainty Will search will check Certainty the National Will Register for ‘registered’ Wills and performs a regional search for ‘unregistered’ Wills with law firms in the areas where the deceased may have made a Will i.e. where they lived or worked during their lifetime.

A Certainty search helps to protect against claims brought about through the distribution of an estate on an assumed intestacy basis or not proving the last Will The Certainty Will search provides proof that reasonable steps have been taken to search for a Will or prove the last Will and therefore helps protect against claims arising for wrongful distribution.

The search is an allowable and recoverable disbursement from the estate. A search with Certainty the National Will Register for ‘registered’ Wills is £33+vat or to check for both registered and unregistered Wills using a Certainty Will Search Combined it is £90+vat.

If you have found a ‘Certainty Certificate of Will Registration’ then we would advise that a search of the Register is undertake, if not then we would recommend a Certainty Combined Will Search is undertaken.

Note to Practitioners – to perform a search log onto to www.certainty.co.uk

Guidance 2

HOW TO GUIDE: Perform a Certainty Will search
1. Log on to www.certainty.co.uk
2. Select the required type of search;
3. a) ‘Combined Will Search’ if a registration
certificate is not presented – Enter the details
requested, namely deceased details: name,
DOB, date of death, last known address and
any previous addresses.
b) ‘Register Will Search’ if a registration
certificate is presented – Enter the Certificate
or Registration number plus the above details.
4. Enter your details
5. Enter payment details
6. Confirm details and submit search

HOW TO GUIDE: Perform a Certainty Will search

1. Log on to www.certainty.co.uk

2. Select the required type of search;

3. a) ‘Combined Will Search’ if a registration

certificate is not presented – Enter the details

requested, namely deceased details: name,

DOB, date of death, last known address and

any previous addresses.

b) ‘Register Will Search’ if a registration

certificate is presented – Enter the Certificate

or Registration number plus the above details.

4. Enter your details

5. Enter payment details

6. Confirm details and submit search

“Certainty? Provides protection & produces business. It’s so simple….”

April 11th, 2014

Myers & Co

Myers & Co Solicitors of Stoke-on-Trent joined Certainty in 2010 when Steve Myers saw an opportunity to protect his Wills & Probate business and clients. Steve saw this as particularly important as his firm is located adjacent to large national legal service providers. He says “There was a lot of competition emerging in this area and I was concerned that it would impact negatively on my business”.

Stephen Myers

Stephen Myers

As an ‘early adopter’ Steve was initially drawn to the client facing and marketing benefits of Certainty and this element has indeed proved to be successful for his law firm. “Initially I was attracted to the free archived Will registration for our clients and this has helped us to re-engage with them and, in some cases, generate extra business”.

Regarding new Will clients Steve says “We have also found that by embedding Will registration into our Will service we are providing a more complete service, allowing us to ‘embrace and inform’ our clients, providing a great reason and platform to stay in touch with them. Certainty has helped us to secure and strengthen client loyalty and that has to be good for business. We see our Will clients as potential clients for other services; LPA’s, conveyancing, anything that we can assist them with”. Certainty Will Registration and TOUCH Willbank management combine to help Myers & Co maximise opportunities for fee income.

But the service is more than ‘business and marketing’. It is also about enhancing the great legal services provided to the clients of Myers & Co. Steve says “We see Will Registration as a simple process to verify that we have advised a client, drafted a Will and, following attestation of the Will, stored the original document in a secure location. Registration gives peace of mind that, no matter what happens when the testator dies, the family and beneficiaries can find us, the holder of the original Will. We are controlling the positive outcome of the Will to benefit our firm, the testator, their family and beneficiaries’.

Steve is also clear that Certainty has significantly contributed to their risk management and OFR measures. “We know that PII providers see Certainty as a way of managing risk in Wills & Probate and we were not surprised to see the recent Legal Opinion which advises the use of Certainty to mitigate risk”. He continues “It makes sense to use recommended technology to help our clients achieve a suitable outcome – firstly, that a Will can be found through Will Registration and, secondly, that we are dealing with the last Will when dealing with a probate matter through Certainty Will Search. It’s so simple”.

For further information please email gerard@certainty.co.uk or call 0845 408 0404

SPG facilitate Will Search for its members and their clients

March 18th, 2014

SPG

SPG facilitate Will Search for its members and their clients

The Sole Practitioners Group is pleased to announce that in conjunction with Certainty, through an SPG dedicated portal www.certainty.org.uk/spg, their members can now access a national Will search service for registered and ‘unregistered’ Wills.

Finding a Will following a death is one of the first tasks people face. Firstly, some may look for a Will to check for funeral arrangements and secondly, everyone needs to look prior to proceeding with distribution of the deceased’s estate.

This is where the problem and risk can arise. If a Will can’t be found, was there one? If a Will is found, who can be sure it is the latest version? If the client says there wasn’t a Will, how can they be sure?

In a claim driven culture and in a practice area that attracts the second highest value of claims against our PI Insurance how do we help reduce the risk of a Will or subsequent Will coming to light after we have distributed the estate? In a society where matrimonial breakdown produces complex arguments over a couple’s assets and in thisrecession-burdened nation, inheritance is now being increasinglyfocused upon, and fought over.

One solution to help prevent a scenario arising that can result in disgruntled beneficiaries, administrators or executors bringing professional negligence claims is Certainty, the National Will Register.

Certainty provides the profession with a positive ‘circular’ solution consisting of the ability to be able to register a Will so it can be found. Importantly, Certainty also provides the ability to search for a Will that has not been registered.

To this end the Sole Practitioners Group is pleased to announce that in conjunction with Certainty , through an SPG dedicated portal www.certainty.org.uk/spg, our members can now access a national Will search service for registered and ‘unregistered’ Wills.

SPG have had open conversations over recent years with Certainty to understand whether the service it offers is of value to Sole Practitioners who provide Wills and Probate services to their clients.  You may have met them at our recent conferences!

It is fair to say that the size of Certainty’s Register and its ability to search for unregistered Wills makes what they do very relevant. Of real value is the fact that Certainty Will search is now widely recognised to greatly reduce risk during estate distribution. Certainty Will search is legally referenced and recommended to establish the existence of a Will or the last Will and therefore provides a practitioner with evidence of a search to reduce the increasing risk and mitigate against a negligence claim.

Indeed, last year at our Annual Conference, one of our speakers, Mark Baxter ofFive Stone Buildings, explained how in his view we should not proceed with a probate or estate administration matter without a Certainty Will search being first carried out to protect against claims. Further to this, Thomas Dumont ofRadcliffe Chambers, has issued a very clear legal Opinion stating the same.

An unknown Will that is found, is good for the testator, executor, family and the practitioner. The  testator’s last wishes are upheld and the executors can distribute the estate with peace of mind. Certainty Will search provides a high level of ‘certainty’ and protection. We should welcome the opportunity in not having to take what could be an expensive risk, when a low cost Will search, which can be billed as an allowable disbursement from the estate, can be made quickly and easily.

Members should also be aware that SPG will receive a commission payment from Certainty on any Wills search conducted through the SPG dedicated portal www.certainty.org.uk/spg.  This means that we can raise vital funds to continue to run SPG and to provide the services and support that benefit all our members.

To assist those of you who do not already use Certainty, we will shortly be running a webinar to outline these risks and to also provide an overview of the Thomas Dumont legal Opinion. There is also a ‘How To Guide to Certainty’ that is available.

In the meantime to perform a Will search (from £33+vat) visit www.certainty.org.uk/spg

For any other matters contact Hilary Underwood, SPG Co-ordinator on info@spg.uk.com or info@certainty.co.uk


Estate distribution backed by a legal opinion…

February 20th, 2014

tom_dumont

Complimentary Webinar: Thursday 27th February 12 – 1pm

Estate Distribution backed by a Legal Opinion

Improve risk management and remove risks with a single solution

A Legal Opinion issued by the highly regarded Thomas Dumont (see Bio below) regarding the use of Certainty services explains how a legal professional can avoid professional negligence claimsthrough the use of Certainty Will Registration and Will Search. It also outlines the pitfalls and potential liability for those who do not.

The Opinion is incredibly positive for the legal profession as it demonstrates that Certainty provides a solution to protect against existing and emerging risks within the Wills and Probate practice areas.

Whether you are one of the thousands of legal professionals who already use Certainty, or not, we hope you find this complimentary webinar invaluable.

Bio: Thomas Dumont, Radcliffe Chambers, is recommended by the legal directories as a leading practitioner for traditional chancery, charities and professional negligence matters. He has been Advocate of the Year at STEP’s Private Client Awards, one of the Lawyer’s Hot 100 and is among City Wealth’s Most Highly Regarded Figures in Private Wealth Management.

Register for Webinar
In this webinar we will focus on the risks outlined in Tom Dumont’s Opinion surrounding Probate and Estate Administration.

  • Thursday 27th February 2014, 12:00 – 1:00pm
  • Topic – How to avoid negligence claims during probate
  • Includes – Legal Opinion overview, how to mitigate against claims, real life cases studies, how to spot potential areas for concern.
  • Q&A session
  • CPD accredited 1 hour (SRA)

Please note that places are genuinely limited so please register at your earliest possible convenience.

Bristol Law Society hosting Wills & Probate evening 27th February 2014

February 14th, 2014

Bristol Law Society

Wills and Probate Evening Thursday, 27th February 2014, 6-7.30PM from 5.30 for Attendee registration (CPD Form) 6pm Start

The Law Library, The Law Courts, Small St, Bristol BS1 1DA

The Law Society of Bristol cordially invites you to attend a CPD seminar, drinks reception and networking event to discuss a Legal Opinion issued by the notable Thomas Dumont and relevant to those operating in the Wills and Probate practice area.

CertaintyNationalWillRegister

The 1 hour interactive session will be chaired by Colin Glass, Partner DWFM Beckman who will give a practical insight into how he uses Certainty and his understanding of how important the Thomas Dumont Opinion is to him in an increasingly claims driven culture. Colin will ask: “Is it madness for a solicitor to take unnecessary risks on an unknown e.g. did a Will exist or is there a later Will out there?” From which such negligence claims can emanate.

The Opinion outlines the risks that exist for the solicitor should a Will or later Will appear after estate distribution, and how and why, a Certainty Will Search is cited as the solution to mitigate and prevent professional negligence claims being brought against a solicitor.

All attendees who participate will receive a CPD point.

Places are limited (due to venue size) RSVP to: Valerie@bristollawsociety.com

Please contact gerard@certainty.co.uk if you have any questions about this event or future events.

Job opportunity with Certainty the National Register and Will Search service.

October 8th, 2013

CertaintyNationalWillRegister

Our sales team is expanding due to the rapid growth of Certainty membership and use of the services.

Working with law firms every day we are seeking someone, perhaps with a Wills & Probate/legal background, to help the continued growth of the most significant business and risk management tool for law firms in the UK. If its not for you then maybe a former colleague, someone you have worked with who may be looking for an exciting, different opportunity. We know that law firms have streamlined in recent years so there are some very good people out there we would love to speak to. For more information please message me directly. All confidential of course.

Contact Gerard O’Driscoll mobile – 07826 907630 or email – gerard@certainty.co.uk

Sometimes the impact of a ‘lost Will’ is devastating…

July 2nd, 2013

Will Search + Certainty

The experienced Wills & Probate solicitor was visibly upset when explaining how a client had been cremated instead of buried despite explicitly requesting burial in her Will.

‘What happened?’ I asked.

She replied ‘Well, the lady had her Will written with us and we stored the original but it wasn’t traced by her family. The copy was lost and they presumed that no Will was written…so she was cremated.’ The lady had specific & important reasons for not wanting cremation.

A true story highlighting the risk, and impact, of a Will not being found.

Despite best intentions of solicitors and clients there are many varied circumstances where a copy Will is ‘lost’ and the original untraced. Passage of time, house moves, chaotic personal paperwork, even intentional destruction, may cause a Will to remain with a law firm once the individual has died. It goes without saying that the prospect of this causes consternation to the testator and solicitor with potentially significant ramifications for the family and beneficiaries.

binocularsSo when someone dies and an estate is to be distributed it is important to establish if a Will or a later Will exists satisfying the wishes of the deceased, giving comfort to remaining family and enabling the law firm and executors to complete the process with protection in place.

Searching for a Will has long been an intrinsic part of Wills & Probate practice though it has been an expensive and time consuming process, often with limited chance of success. This is no longer the case with Certainty Will Search, which enables interested parties to search for a Will in any part of the UK through an accredited and recommended process. Safe and secure, the process does not allow ‘snoopers’ to randomly check and any information released is controlled by legal professionals.

Launched in 2010 the service interconnects law firms throughout the UK, producing an instant ‘Will Search request’ sent to firms in specified regions relevant to the deceased. Many, many Wills, presumed never written or lost, have now been found using Certainty Will Search.

Simon ShafferThe service is routinely used by law firms, probate researchers, Treasury Solicitor, members of the public and other authorised users. Simon Shaffer (pictured) of Moerans Solicitors in North London says ’we find the search service fantastic. Not only did we find the Will we were searching for but also an earlier one as well’.

A member of the public also provides a clear example of the power of Will Search. Mr Hope lost his brother back in December 2011 and could not find a Will. A high street bank was pressing to deal with the estate as intestate but Mr Hope was sure a Will was written so he contacted Certainty. After the simple, inexpensive process to search the Will was located at a law firm in the Midlands, ensuring that his brothers wishes were fulfilled. Mr Hope says ‘I would not have found the Will without Certainty. It has given me great peace of mind at a difficult time’.

Solicitors operate in an era of increasing litigation and should take steps to protect themselves against such action. Within the legal world regulation and compliance requirements are increasing so it’s comforting to know that Will Search is a recognised process to assist with both. With the removal of prescribed rules in favour of Outcomes Focused Regulation solicitors can take a simple, effective measure which shows focus on a suitable and fair outcome.

For more information on Will Search please contact gerard@certainty.co.uk

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