Losing someone over Christmas or coping with grief following the recent death of a loved one is always going to present challenges. Christmas is typically a very emotional time, and one that is laden with logistical questions: where will you and visiting family members sleep, who will buy the presents, who will cook the meals? Add to this the need for liaising with funeral directors and probate solicitors and it is easy to see how a bereavement over Christmas can quickly become overwhelming.
And the truth is that grief can make the usual challenges of Christmas both more difficult to get through and more heart-rending; it's not as if the magic of Christmas can just anaesthetise or dissipate your hurt. In fact, for many the happy associations and familial intersections of Christmas can actually compound emotional turmoil and vulnerability, particularly for those who feel the pressure to "perform" happily during the Christmas season through fear of upsetting others.
One of the most significant and traumatic awakenings we all experience is the childhood realisation that we have no choice about the inevitable: all that lives must die. However, while death is unavoidable this shouldn't mean that we have no choice about how we die and how our passing is handled.
The experience of many bereaved people can be disappointing at many levels: from concern over financial issues, such as fees and costs for probate and funerals, to more intangible aspects such as the level of service received from agencies handling the death and feelings of disempowerment.
But the aftermath does not have to be impersonal or out of our hands.
Probate is one of those legal processes that almost everyone will need to negotiate at some time in their lives. Unfortunately, the complexity juxtaposed with necessity can leave the legal services consumer feeling trapped – in desperate need of assistance at a difficult time but dissatisfied and disempowered by the options presented before them.
Above all, at a time of grief and uncertainty, with all the emotional and familial difficulties that may emerge, the client is likely to want and need clarity regarding who is providing them with a probate service, how much it will cost, and just what it will entail. But this is not always as simple as it sounds. And in the case of those faced by the prospect of handing over the probate reins to a professional executor named in the Will, any notion of choice appears to be completely snatched from their hands.
Oratto, the legal services website that matches consumers to the right lawyer for their particular needs, has launched a fixed-fee probate quote engine which provides consumers with the ability to compare quotes for probate. Customers could save four figure sums on probate fees and, crucially, are empowered to find the solicitor who is right for their particular situation.
With the launch of its fixed-fee probate quotation system, Oratto offers consumers with unprecedented level of ease, efficiency and pricing transparency when finding and comparing quotes for fixed-fee probate services. The process is simple to use and, once the detailed but quick-fire questionnaire is complete, users are presented with a selection of named lawyers, each offering a fixed-fee quote for services based on the information provided.
It is troubling that it's possible that ministers may be giving some consideration to resurrect plans to increase probate fees by up to £20,000; despite these being quietly shelved due to the early General Election in May.
This comes despite the fact that there has been very little in the way of appetite either from lawyers or the general public with regards to the move. Many believe the move flies in the face of British aspirational values while also hitting the pockets of hardworking families and threatening both the financial and emotional legacies of older generations.