Wills, Trust And Probate Software - Providing A Niche For Your Legal Practice

Article by Charles Christian

In this article, award winning technology journalist and

industry analyst Charles Christian - who has been named as one of

the top 10 'movers and shakers in the legal IT world today'

- looks at the Cognito Custodiens trust and probate system and

considers its potential attraction to solicitors


At a Law Society annual conference some years ago, the

Society's then president warned in his speech that the stark

choice facing many law firms was to either get a niche or get out.

What continues to dumbfound me is the fact so many firms still

ignore this advice and try to be generalists, with the result that

other organisations, such as banks, accountants and insurance

companies, start squeezing their way into areas of legal practice

that were once the sole preserve of solicitors.

Probate work is a good example of this trend, where over the

past decade High Street banks have been taken on as executors by

legions of their customers, despite the fact the banks' fees

are frequently substantially higher than those charged by

solicitors' practices. Given that everybody dies sometime and

the high property values mean more and more estates are being

caught by inheritance tax, the area of trust and probate work is

one niche that far more law firms should be looking at. And if you

are looking at a niche area of practice, then you also need niche

software to help you run that practice, which is where Custodiens

trust and probate system from Cognito Software enters the


Although sharing the same name as the original Custodiens

product, which dates back to the early 1990s, the new Custodiens is

not an update but a complete end-to-end redevelopment. I know, you

have heard it all before - and there is certainly no shortage of

other probate software systems available in the UK legal market,

however where Custodiens stands out from the crowd is in both its

scope and its wide applicability.

For example, with scope most of the current crop of probate

systems is either case management product - which guide fee earners

through a matter from start to finish via a series of workflows -

or else systems that can perform IHT 400 calculations and,

possibly, subsequently complete these forms. But, with one or two

exceptions, few of these systems can handle the trusts side of the

picture, despite the fact many more clients are now using trusts as

part of their estate planning.

In complete contrast, Custodiens provides a comprehensive case


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