Julie Draper, Director and Founder of The Probate Network tells the story behind the creation of the business.
Like so many businesses there is a personal story behind the launch of a new venture. For me, The Probate Network was motivated by a tragic occurrence in my life, the death of my much-loved father.
It was not my Dad’s death that triggered the idea per se, it was the paperwork that followed. My family had to finalise his affairs, a very necessary but tough job to do. Tough because it is emotionally draining but also because some of the paperwork and ‘red tape’ was complex. Mum, Dad’s wife, is still very much alive. Most of their property and some bank accounts were in joint names and was relatively simple to sort, but there were shares and investments that were in Dad’s sole name. Mum wanted to take on the task of dealing with the paperwork and most of it, pensions, joint bank accounts, the family home, were completed without the need for probate. Even the stocks and shares were eventually transferred by using a Small Estates Form but there was still some doubt as to whether probate was required to make everything ‘official’.
The Inspiration behind the Network
My mum rang some local solicitors and the response she got was alarming. When she said, “I want to talk to someone to see if I need probate”, three out of four times she was simply told, “You’ll need to book an appointment. It’s £XXX per hour.” The £XXX ranging from £230 per hour to £270 per hour. No pleasantries, no justification for the rate or explanation of what could be expected from the hour, and absolutely no opportunity to meet or assess the experience of the probate solicitor.
I can assure you that not every law firm operates like this. My professional background is in legal marketing and I deal with many firms of lawyers. The scenario I describe above would not happen with my clients’ firms but, as in any sector, there are firms that understand good client care and those that simply do not care unless the money is rolling in.
What ‘The Probate Network’ aims to achieve
Our family did not need Probate for Dad’s estate. If mum had taken that appointment, she would have spent £270 to be congratulated on the job she had completed herself. We did however need to organise a trust which was specified in Dad’s will and we took advice from a lovely solicitor who took the time to talk to mum before the ‘meter’ started running.
The Probate Network was launched to provide people needing probate advice with an option to talk to a local probate solicitor (for free) to ask some initial questions. After the free consultation they may find, like mum, that they can complete the paperwork and possibility the probate process without professional assistance. It may be that professional probate help is required but at the end of the free 20 minute consultation the recipient of the free advice will be armed with three crucial pieces of information; an initial assessment of needs based on their specific circumstances, an idea of likely costs of professional probate assistance and the chance to assess if the lawyer on the end of the phone is someone they feel comfortable with. Probate can be an emotional journey and it is important to have a professional rapport with your lawyer.
We strive to maintain a quality service
Members of the network have all agreed to offer a free 20 minute telephone consultation when booked via this website. Legal firms that join the Network are required to be Members of the Law Society and regulated by the SRA. In addition, following a free consultation we seek feedback from our clients to ensure that the lawyers are delivering a quality service that meets with expectations. The Probate Network aims to make the process of finding a professional, knowledgeable yet personable lawyer a little bit easier.
I know my Dad would be proud!