Case Study

How BePrepared Generates Leads For Our Estate Practice And Eases The Management Of Digital Assets - with Stephen Sampson

Table of Contents

Monan Gozzett is an established and leading law firm that specialises in providing a unique service through their devotion, commitment and personal care to all clients in Criminal Law, Family Law, Dispute Resolution, Commercial Litigation, Regulatory & Private Client.

Monan Gozzett adopted BePrepared so they could handle their estate planning clients digital assets post death, building ongoing (and enduring) relationships with their clients, and so they could sleep at night knowing that client data is stored securely. The time-savings and lead generation was just an added bonus!

Meeting Stephen Sampson, Head of Private Client for Monan Gozzett

I'm the head of Private Client at Monan Gozzett LLP, and well, I'm based in Arundel, but the firm covers the whole country. I specialise in Wills, Powers of Attorney, Tax, Trusts, Probate, etc. The firm also deals with family law, civil litigation, commercial litigation, and some very high-end false allegation and criminal litigation work on a private basis.

Before you used BePrepared, what did you do with digital assets and your clients files?

We just left clients to sort it out themselves..and then one of them died, leaving us with a great big disaster.

It was a client that I'd known from my previous firm; he suddenly died. Unbeknownst to really, almost anyone, we knew he had buy-to-let properties, but he just decided in about 2011-2012 to go fully digital. He also managed his buy-to-let himself; his entire life was on his phone. I don't think everything was backed up either, and he suddenly had a heart attack and died.

Unfortunately, he was in water when it happened, so his phone was dead, no access to anything, no idea. His tenants were paying rent to his own personal account; we couldn't notify the bank he was dead without the tenants' payments getting canceled. We didn't know who the tenants were; we didn't have their tenancy agreements because every single thing we needed was on that one dead phone.

So what was the process when you started that, like how did you begin trying to even tackle that?

Huge awful upheaval. People had to go around in person, and then speak to the tenants and go, 'Can I just get your contact details,'.

We had to do things like getting the ones who are paying their rent from benefits (they're getting paid by the state and then paying their rent) to make sure all payments were set up to our account before we could notify the bank he died.

Really, it's made the process at least nine months longer than it should have been just because we didn't have access to the information.

So how long does it normally take you, and then how long did it take in his case?

That sort of estate should normally be about a year, start to finish. This one, it's still running on now, but we're about the 21-month point.

It's probably caused more than six to nine months delay, but it's just been an awful uphill struggle.

And that led us on to thinking about, well, hang on a second, letting the clients do things themselves doesn't work.

Is there something out there that would help, would make sure they're getting this information somewhere that's accessible after they've died, and that led us to you.

What's the feedback from your clients been?

Feedback has been good, I even had to correct a guy who thought it was my idea. He thought I'd invented it and said it was fantastic.

It's really resonating with clients, they're really getting a lot out of it...and they're all finding it really easy to use as well.

We've even had a couple of retired, well-past state pension age artists who are really engaging with it.

One of them, he's got a digital NFT strategy that will continue after his death and he's going to be adding that information into his vault so it can be accessed.

We have another who's a leading arts professor, and we're talking royalties, copyrights, books she's written all this sort of thing.

Yeah collating in one place making it accessible...and they're all finding it really easy to use as well.

What are the benefits you've received from BePrepared?

Two main ones really.

One being the knowledge that the stuff that would be difficult to find is going to be on there. We're going to get it when the client passes away. It's going to make it easier, and that we're thinking is more likely to have us being instructed to administer that person's estate, because we have made a difference during their lifetime and will make a difference for their family, their executors, when they've died for them having this in place.

The other main benefit we're seeing is clients are telling us they have mentioned it to friends and family etc etc and what a good idea it is and so on and so forth, so it's a it's a lead generator for us as well.

Clients are telling us they have mentioned it to friends and family. What a good idea it is.

Because the vault's automatically reaching out to these same people that are hearing about it?

Yeah their friends and family

So do you know how many leads you have?

I think it's about 20 from my understanding.

But particularly, the reminder aspects on there as well.

So that we you know, we try and encourage clients to look at their Wills once a year... I think we're lucky if they look at once every 10 years.

But using the auto check in thing, it's a prompt to them.

From our point of view, and it's another benefit of BePrepared, is the fact that we're not going to have to physically do that ourselves -because you'll never get around to it. You could fully intend it, you could diarise the day that every client signs a Will for every year, to give them a two-minute phone call just to say "just checking in with you" - but you'll never get around to it.

Using the auto check in thing, it's a prompt to them....[and] we're not going to have to physically do that ourselves - because you'll never get around to it.

We're all too busy so having that automated thing come through prompting them etc is really helpful.

How important is security to you?

Oh hugely hugely important. Another thing is one of our clients used to encrypt stuff for the MOD (Ministry of Defence) into, and back from, Russian.

So we have some who are particularly concerned - but yeah, it's just that it's that amazing sort of, sense of relief almost, to think there's the security it's covered.

It's just that it's that amazing sense of relief, to think there's the security it's covered.

It's highly important because the things we're talking about, and from what clients have told us they intend to put on there, it's stuff you wouldn't want that out there in the public domain.

We're also hoping to use BePrepared in future (as we expand with it) for our litigation side of things. On the criminal litigation side, as a secure way to pass hypersensitive information to and from the client. We're dealing with things that, yes hopefully get dismissed and never make it into the public domain, but you definitely wouldn't want the discussions prior to that ever making into the public domain.

Tuckers had a data breach, they were hacked. That happens. They did all the right things: they got their I.T guys involved, they reported information commissioner, they reported to the police.

The Information Commissioner's Office fined them, I think it was £98,000 pounds, because what they lost from the server that was breached included: six unencrypted trial bundles, and one murder, two man slaughters etc...and whilst the media will name the defendant most time, everyone else is anonymous - but it's not in the bundles.They're out there now and that's what they got fined for.

That's what's led us on to thinking in terms of where else can we be using BePrepared, where is it going to play a good role -and the sensitivity of information is another bit that makes security really important.

What firms should use BePrepared?

Private Client absolutely, definitely.

But I would also say, as it can not just serve as a vault where clients keep their documents and you keep it for them, actually as a method of a secure form of communication between the clients - the sort of thing where you want to send something to the client for them to review, like a witness statement, proof of evidence, that sort of stuff.

You want to send it across for them to review, you want them to be able to amend it etc... but do you really want to be attaching it to an email whether you've encrypted that attachment or not?

Would it not be safer to send it through something where it's two-factor authentication at each end and all the other security features that go with it?

Would it not be safer to send it through something where it's two-factor authentication at each end and all the other security features that go with it?

The other part where it can be really useful is for example in family cases, as a way to communicate with the other side.

Simply then we're not having to worry about their data security at their end.

We use a case management system, we're cloud-based, we're doing as much as we can on cyber security - but we know there are firms that you'll email over the disclosure on a divorce case, and they're simply running off an internal server with desktop PC's, no case management system, everything's put in a folder somewhere within documents - that sort of stuff - probably not even using OneDrive, and quite possibly the password still "password".

It's one of those things - regulatory wise we're probably fine, but reputation wise, if our client is the wife who's disclosing information about finances and, you know, the husband's solicitors have the breach -it's still her data that's going to be why not do more RN to try and protect it?

What would you say to firms considering BePrepared?

Dive in.

Don't be don't be last to the party for a start. Don't be the one that's signing up to this after everybody else has. Then you're not leading, you're not offering anything unique.

But also it's so easy to use. It's so simple to set a client up on there. It takes hardly any time - I think we've got it down to about less than 60 seconds to sign them up and put their will in there.

It's so easy to use. It's so simple to set a client up on there. It takes hardly any time - I think we've got it down to about less than 60 seconds to sign them up and put their will in there.

The clients like it, it's something different, it's forward thinking, and it really does stop a whole bunch of disasters that I've had over the years including my current one.

About the author

The online safe deposit box for your clients digital assets

BePrepared is a secure, white-labelled digital vault used to confidentially store and distribute your clients’ cryptocurrency, passwords and other digital assets when they die.