Probate Plus vs Spreadsheets
Some firms struggle on, using spreadsheets to help them keep track of an estate’s financials. The initial simplicity and familiarity of spreadsheets is seductive but, unless you’ve set up an extremely complicated file, with multiple sheets and locked-down, cross referenced, calculations, a bespoke spreadsheet is unlikely to get you anywhere near the functionality of a robust system like Probate Plus. A spreadsheet certainly won’t be as user friendly and it’ll be harder to share workloads between colleagues, or generate the necessary reports expected by your clients.
Don’t get us wrong, we love spreadsheets, we prototype things in them and explore ideas. They’re great tools but sometimes software that’s dedicated to a task is far more useful than the generic environment a spreadsheet provides.
Before you come unstuck, get tied up in knots, or give yourself the headache of relying on a pile of different spreadsheets scattered around your PCs, take a look at Probate Plus.
Why spreadsheets aren’t the best tool for managing an estate’s accounts.
1. They can waste your time.
There’s an inherent risk of errors and time wasting spent in presentation, and cross-referencing with other data, when using a spreadsheet.
2. They suffer from “feature creep” and version control.
Over time, spreadsheets (especially if created by individuals who may have since left the firm or department) can become a potential time-bomb if not fully understood by others or not updated. Calculations and cell references can also be inadvertently changed.
3. They’re not team friendly.
Spreadsheets are harder to share, sync and work on as a team. Unless you are a sole practitioner, it’s important that colleagues can open and understand your work, if you’re on holiday, sick or retire. Additionally it’s hard to quickly search across multiple active spreadsheets or perform practice-wide analysis and reports.
4. They’re bad at managing workflow.
Probate Plus can assist in much more than just the accounts production at the end of the administration. It can manage the actual workflow of gradually building up an estate, as information is uncovered from the start.
5. They may not “scale” well.
As all estates are different, scaling a template or “default” spreadsheet means editing each one a per-case basis in response to the actual complexity of the case (for example an estate with 20 beneficiaries rather than 2). Probate Plus doesn’t start off with a fixed template but automatically adjusts reports as you add more and more information.
6. They may not adequately illustrate what’s happened.
Probate Plus can help in showing (for instance) how you valued (and revalued) the estate at death, how you dealt with transferring assets, satisfied specific gifts, followed income produced by the estate over time, monitored transactions carried out by third parties such as banks before accounts were closed, etc, etc.
7. They won’t help with other administration jobs.
Whether you need to write to someone connected to an estate, or fill in the main IHT forms, Probate Plus comes with free tools to assist with these other administrative tasks. A spreadsheet is unlikely to be programmed to carry out those jobs for you, leading to more time wasting and the risk of transposing incorrect figures into forms and having to dig out address details from another source when writing to a contact.
8. Reporting will be a pain.
At an interim or final stage, you’ll want to quickly generate reports for yourself or your clients. Rather than worrying about formatting those documents each time, why not let dedicated software take the strain of report production? With Probate Plus you can be confident, if you’ve reconciled your postings, that the figures are going to be correct. Plus you have the flexibility to run a huge range of different reports at just the touch of a button.
We’d be delighted to highlight the main features of Probate Plus to you.