News and industry insights

New estate law service for law firms

By Estatesearch on March 27th, 2024

Leading UK legal technology provider Estatesearch has launched it’s estate law services in Canada.  The award-winning legal technology innovator will now offer asset and liability searches and Will Data Management services to Canadian legal firms.

The challenges of establishing estate assets and liabilities

Jonathan Upton, Group CEO, Estatesearch confirmed: “The Canadian estate law process is broadly similar to that of the UK and Canadian lawyers often face similar challenges to their British counterparts with establishing assets and liabilities within the estate of a deceased individual.  The size, degree of sophistication of Canada’s financial institutions, and the common law system, all also share similarities.  Therefore, it made sense to extend services into Canada, so that lawyers, their clients, and financial institutions over there can benefit from our professional experience and award-winning technology.

“It’s easy for families to forget the existence of a pension pot or simply not know about shares, life insurance, or other assets belonging to the deceased.  In our UK research, we found that 30% of people can’t easily locate or don’t know the whereabouts of their personal pensions while a further 38% of people had not, or were unsure if they had informed their next of kin where to find information about investments.”

Research shows that there are currently approximately 1.8 million bank balances – worth $678 million – that have gone unclaimed.* This includes savings and chequing/current accounts; bank drafts, certified cheques, official cheques, money orders, traveler’s cheques, credit card balances, term deposits, guaranteed investment certificates (GIC), and depository receipts. While many Canadian provinces have escheatment processes for dormant bank accounts, there are other assets and liabilities to consider such as pensions, investments, and insurance policies.

Peace of mind and an audit trail

Jonathan Upton continues: “We have already had productive conversations with numerous Canadian legal firms to help us refine and optimize our Financial Profile Search for the local market.  The asset and liability search supports estate law teams in carrying out due diligence related to determining the extent of an estate. It also offers clients peace of mind and a demonstrable audit trail of their efforts, whilst helping to ensure that beneficiaries receive what is rightfully theirs.”

Estatesearch’s Financial Profile Search provides a comprehensive and detailed report supporting an efficient fact-finding process, helping lawyers better understand clients’ financial affairs to manage and/or administer an estate effectively.  Using information and data from a variety of sources, Estatesearch currently notifies more than 150 organizations. The resulting report helps support due diligence, clearly demonstrating the steps to identify all assets and liabilities.  Estatesearch is also building a register of deceased individuals and is beginning to work with Canadian financial data providers to ensure that this data is available to be searched for credit lending purposes to help reduce fraud against deceased persons’ estates.

Helping lawyers keep data clean and up-to-date

In addition, Estatesearch is also offering a Will Data Management service to help firms maintain the health and integrity of the Will data they hold on file. The simple, cost-effective management tool initially provides a health check to establish the percentage of out-of-date records, a secondary cleansing phase to identify deceased subjects and rectify incorrect addresses, and a final optional phase for ongoing monitoring which notifies firms of life events allowing databases to be kept up to date more efficiently. 

Searches are ordered through Estatesearch’s secure, online platform, providing access to a growing range of essential due diligence services, helping firms manage everything in one place.  With no registration or subscription fees, firms only pay for the searches services they need.

Expertise and experience

Jonathan Upton continues: “As we grow our presence in Canada, we welcome Michael Malloy and Ron Badr as business development directors. Their deep knowledge combined with respect from the legal community earned over many years, means they are well placed to introduce our services to legal teams in the region. 

“We are continuously looking to improve our services.  In our recent UK customer survey, we were rated excellent or good by 98% of 200+ clients surveyed with 100% of respondents recommending Estatesearch, achieving a Net Promoter Score of 96.  We look forward to replicating our service offerings in Canada to lawyers, paralegals, and law clerks to assist with asset discovery, risk mitigation, and best practice in probate cases.” 

Estatesearch is sponsoring and speaking at the Toronto Lawyers Association Estate Law Round-Up webinar moderated by Hull & Hull LLP on 27 March 2024.