When you’re handling estate administration on behalf of your clients, you may need to outsource specialist aspects of the process from reconstructing a family tree on intestacy to administering overseas assets. It can sometimes be difficult to approach this subject with your client as they could be worried that it will slow down the process and cost too much. That’s why this blog post explores how to best advise your clients when involving a third-party in the administration of an estate.
Speed up the process
As you’re aware, outsourcing the specialist aspects of estate administration can speed up the process and allow distribution sooner. Providers of these services – such as Title Research – have the knowledge and experience to make the task or project progress more smoothly and quickly than if you were to carry out the work yourself.
For example, at Title Research we deal with North American shareholdings on a daily basis and are aware of all the potential pitfalls that can catch people out. Most of our clients do not see these problems as frequently. When we are reconstructing a family tree, we know what to look out for and can navigate the ever-increasing complexities in family make up to ensure that all the entitled beneficiaries are accounted for.
In an unregulated industry, look to other accreditations
There is a wide range of choice for providers of specialist services. Your client could make a decision based solely on price, but in an unregulated industry, such as for genealogy and people tracing, looking for other independent accreditations can be very helpful. For example, does the provider hold the internationally recognised ISO accreditation for quality and information security? What arrangements do they have if they need to engage a third party outside of the UK? Do they hold professional indemnity insurance? These are all points to consider that may affect the advice you give to your client.
How transparent is the provider’s pricing - will it offer good value for the work involved and help maximise the estate for beneficiaries?
Finally, it is worth considering the transparency of the price you are being quoted. If it is a fixed price for a piece of work, check what is and is not included within this. For example, is the use of databases included or is this charged as an additional disbursement? If a time and expense quotation is provided, ask what the hourly rate being used is likely to be. Title Research applies various hourly rates depending on the experience level of the person undertaking the work – much as you may do within your firm – and can inform you of the average rate used.
Contingency or commission fees can seem attractive to lay people, as it is often presented in a way that suggests that it doesn’t cost the estate anything. However, you may wish to advise your client of the STEP guidelines published on this subject which urge caution. It is also worth calculating the approximate fee that would be paid using a percentage fee and comparing that to an hourly rate or fixed price quotation.
Title Research provide fast, fixed fee access to genealogical research and asset repatriation services, making us the safe choice for the resolution of complex estate administration cases. If you want to find out more, get in touch with our Client Services Team by calling 0345 87 27 600 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.