WillBits

Lawyers

Lawyers are being required to adapt as the community demands to manage more of their affairs electronically. Law firms know that being digitally capable and cyber secure has become an operational imperative, but many law firms are struggling to keep pace. Law firms are increasingly competitive and more complex. Costs of doing business are increasing and the risk of cyber crime has risen significantly during the global pandemic. Currently, law firms store estate planning documents in hard copy which incurs substantial operational costs and risks (secure storage, personnel, infrastructure etc) of storing a person’s will and estate planning documents.

Many law firms have found it difficult to balance the competing requirements to maintain COVID Worksafe compliant environment for their staff, while also being able to access physical paper documents from onsite safes and witness signing of documents. Simultaneously, law firms are experiencing an increase in estate planning work due to aroused fears of COVID-19 within the community, prompting many members of the public to seek legal services to get their affairs in order. An additional challenge is that elderly clients of law firms, who are themselves particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, are finding it difficult to safely access legal services, leaving them vulnerable to risk of financial elder abuse.

Even before COVID-19, law firms experienced difficulty staying in touch with clients who moved house, moved interstate or overseas. Families of the testator often move interstate or internationally or become estranged, making it very difficult for the lawyer to locate the nominated POA, executor or beneficiaries. Many suburban and rural law firms rely upon manually checking the death notices in the local newspaper to learn if a person has died for whom they hold the will. This task has become even harder with the recent closing of over 200 suburban and rural newspapers since January 2020.

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