Technology is making it easier to save and share information and the probate and estate administration world is no different. Clients can use Excel spreadsheets, Dropbox and other file sharing tools with us and beneficiaries.
The New York Times recently had an article "Online Tools Can Ease the Burden of Being an Executor of an Estate" and it recommended an interesting online database tool called EstateExec that has gotten good reviews. It is an interactive tool that allows an executor to list and track financial assets, personal property, debts and then share it online with a lawyer or other beneficiaries and family members. It also has timelines and checklists (so court hearings for approval can be entered) which provides a transparency to the process which helps others understand why it can take months in the probate court system.
While this does not eliminate the need for a probate attorney in an estate with assets, the will is complex or where there is a likelihood of litigation, it has good checklists and is a useful tracking device. It can also be helpful for very small estates that do not need probate court.
Part of our practice is focused on using technology where possible to make it easier for our clients. Older clients are not as technology based but things are changing and we can take advantage of all the tools available to us to make probate administration easier and faster.