Barry Mattock smiling at the camera News

In a series of Supporters in Focus pieces, The British Wills and Probate Awards 2021 interviewed Barry Mattock.

Alongside headline sponsor Executor Solutions we look forward to recognising achievement, highlighting progression and championing innovation.

However, the awards couldn’t take place without the hard task of judging and shortlisting the entries. It’s not a task many would take on, but we are extremely grateful to those that have.

This week we profile Barry Mattock, a new judge for the British Wills and Probate Awards.

We’re delighted to have Barry Mattock with us for the fourth year of The British Wills & Probate Awards. First of all, tell us who you are and what you do:

My name is Barry Mattock. I am the Group Managing Director for Executor Solutions, a property specialist company working with executors, and others involved in probate property – both legal professionals and private executors.

We provide services to help manage probate property; HMRC compliant property valuations, a range of services to protect and maintain, market and sell properties.

We work closely with clients saving valuable fee-earning time for professionals and saving money for an estate.

What initially sparked your interest in the sector?

Executor Solutions (ES) has its origins in conversations with legal colleagues struggling to sell stubborn property.

At that time, we were busy working with housebuilders up and down the UK, national brands and regional developers, helping to reserve plots and sell their dependent buyer’s homes. We had become property specialists, with teams of experts at each stage of the process driving the sale and completion of a property, in times typically half of the national average.

A solicitor well known to us, struggling to sell a probate home, touched on how much time it took to manage a probate property; managing the condition of an unoccupied property, the expectations of the estate, releasing funds, valuing and selling a property and asked us to help sell it, which we did, and in quick time.

They and their clients were thrilled and so were we! … which got us thinking … how could we help busy solicitors and executors to manage, value and sell property in a way that saves fee earning time and presents a cost saving to the estate.

Video Q and A with Barry Mattock – award judge

Introduction to Barry Mattock 

What Are You Looking Forward To As An Award Judge?

What Are You Looking For From Entries? 

What improvements do you think could be made to the Wills and Probate sector?

We are painfully aware of what we all know – that after a few years of change within the industry caseloads have rocketed and timescales involved in the grant of probate have become overly long.

Where grant of probate used to take four weeks, or so, it can now take many months. This is having a real impact on estate administration and on clients who face mounting costs, reductions in final inheritance and increased uncertainty.

These delays are hindering the work of all involved in probate, in particular solicitors who commonly focus on achieving maximum value for the estate, completing the work quickly and maintaining control of the process. Very frustrating.

And it’s not simply a case of people waiting for the riches of a windfall. Many are relying on long expected inheritance to deal with normal life stages; paying off a loan, paying university fees, replacing a car, gathering together a deposit to buy a house or even to cover normal living expenses.

There has got to be a better way, and more accountable and transparent way, a clearer system where government departments, responsible for delivering key services, publish clear and achievable delivery commitments, commitments which are accountable, subject to penalties and scrutiny. A system that uses technology to enable the self-service of progress information reducing the time burden of transactional communications.

As a Judge of the awards, what will you be looking for when identifying a winning entry?

It has been a difficult year on so many levels and for so many. I will be looking for entrants who have adapted to recent challenges and changes, who have focussed on solutions that deliver outstanding service to clients and communities and which takes into account values of diversity and opportunity.

This might involve technology, it might involve adapting business models bringing in new services and new approaches, it might involve collaborating with other parties and it might involve bringing benefit to marginalised communities.

We are looking forward to evaluating the hard work, innovation and business culture of entrants.

How important do you think it is to recognise achievement in the sector?

There are lots of benefits associated with awards, in short, it will add value to your business.

It’s an opportunity to raise your business’s profile, demonstrating credibility and benefits to your market expressed in a third parties’ assessment, an award, of your business (a bit like reviews and review scores).

It’s a chance to learn and adapt, to benchmark yourself against competitors, to understand your market a little more. A chance to learn and grow.

It’s a chance to differentiate your company from your competition by showing your approach to solving their needs and requirements, of your market, and a way of showing tangible benefits and advantage.

For your teams, your people, the recognition and exposure an award can bring can be a real boost to motivation and commitment. The seal of approval a nomination, being shortlisted for the award itself, can bring to your work and your profile can be a great signal for your own company, to your clients and to your suppliers. An award can also help validate your brand and attract new recruits and talent as you pitch yourselves as leaders in your field and increase employee morale.

What are the most prominent challenges the industry is facing at the moment?

As mentioned, the delays in probate, and the methods of application, cause challenges to all involved.

Probate registries have been facing significant backlogs brought on by proposed fee changes resulting in a surge of applications and the compulsory introduction of online applications. Restrictions caused by Coronavirus have only added pressure through all stages of the process from the “Tell Us Once” government service, all the way through to Probate Registry, Land Registry and HMRC.

Solicitors are understandably drowning under mounting backlogs unable to action cases.

We are seeing many people disadvantaged by their inability to sell a property and bank an expected inheritance. For dependants who urgently need access to the estate of a deceased family member on whom they were financially dependent for their living expenses this causes significant problems. In some cases, people who are entitled to receive considerable sums of money following a death, have been forced to sign up to receive benefits or take out emergency loans as they wait for their inheritance to come through and some dependants are finding themselves liable for mounting interest charged on inheritance tax owed on properties.

Mounting costs are not restricted to inheritance tax interest. The indirect costs of insurance, council tax, maintenance, and more grow all the while a property stands empty waiting to be sold, or to pass onto new ownership, putting many under further financial stress.

The challenges are in establishing a service fit for purpose and for the likely volume of work, that employs technology to remove the transactional nature of work and enables all involved to monitor progress and employs agreements and agreed expectations that guarantee appropriate efficiencies of service.

Thank you to Barry Mattock for your support for The British Wills & Probate Awards 2021.

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