It is safe to say that we are firmly into 2018 now, and the first month of this year has been filled with brand new technology that is set to change the way we live our day to day lives. Not only has it changed the way that we live our lives but it has changed many different sectors of business.
As technology progresses at this pace, we should probably look at what this means for the legal sector. Firms all over the world are adopting and investing in new technology to effectively compete with the other competition out there. Not only do they need to use this technology to compete with other firms, but clients are wanting more and more engagement with technology in all of the sectors of business. In this respect, the legal sector is quite far behind but they are catching up rapidly.
According to SEO experts, voice searches are expected to take over. With Siri and Alexa already setting the bar very high, and voice searching are expected to account for 50% of online searches by the year 2020. You may be wondering how this can affect the legal sector. Because a quarter of all voice searches are for local information, it is likely that people will be searching for information on local lawyers. This means that law firms will have to make sure that their websites and online presence are adapted to be found in this way. Law firms will already be used to optimizing their page for traditional searches, SEO for voice will be slightly different. It is worth finding out what the difference is and how you can get prepared.
Law firms should also expect to get used to the idea of automated technology. The Law Society has predicted that this type of technology will take over 67,000 jobs in the legal sector by the year 2038. Although many people are worried that this means they’ll lose their jobs, they need to remember the positives to this. Machines can take on a lot of the legal work that often slows law firm employees down and therefore make them more efficient and better able to take on important work. Service automation will help increase productivity and will help law firms be able to take on more and more work, without any extra strain on their employees. This means that you should expect a rise in the number of cases that law firms take on, as well as how much they do in advisory capacities.
Virtual and augmented reality are fast becoming commonplace in a lot of other sectors, but it is one piece of technology that law firms don’t seem to have adopted just yet. This could all be set to change, however, with the law sector finally coming on board with this technology. It is expected that virtual and augmented reality will be used to help with client recruitment and engagement. It is also expected that law firms can use these types of technology to help with staff recruitment and training. It means that training sessions can be delivered via AR or VR and won’t take the employee away from the office for as long as if they were going away to train. This will help lower costs and make sure that people are being trained fully and effectively.
SEO is changing all the time, and 2018 will see further changes yet in this piece of technology. Artificial intelligence or AI means that they can answer users search queries from just the first few words. This is known as predictive search and already exists but in 2018 it is expected that this technology will become more advanced and better able to guess what the user wanted to search for. This means that law firms may be cut out of the competition before the user has even had a chance to search for them.
We all have to go, sooner or later. And many of us choose to leave more than memories to the loved ones. This is why making a will and specifying the inheritors has become of utmost importance. If you care about your spouse and children, make sure that their future is secured long after you are gone. Before receiving any money and access to estate, the beneficiaries will have to wait for the probate process to finish and the inheritance distributed. There are several steps for any typical probate.
The first thing to do is to make an inventory of the decedent’s assets and documents. Locate and carefully place Last Will and Testament, funeral instructions, and/or a Revocable Living Trust. Furthermore, you must find documents relevant to the decedent’s financial situation (bank and brokerage statements, stock and bond certificates, life insurance policies, corporate records, car and boat titles).
Also, check if there are any debts to be paid before accessing the assets. Verify utility bills, credit card bills, mortgages, personal loans, medical bills and the funeral bill. The Personal Representative will have to decide which debts are legitimate and must be paid.
Next, get appointed as Personal Representative of the probate estate or accept appointment as Successor Trustee. It is important to determine who will handle the assets during the probate process. If probate is needed then a Personal Representative will need to be appointed by the probate court. Determining the executor is a delicate matter and the choice must be done keeping in mind numerous factors, including the deceased wishes and the representative’s eligibility.
After naming the executor (or personal representative), the hard part begins.
The whole fortune must be evaluated. Again, this is a very sensitive and complicated process, since it involves calculating the value of the assets at the date of death. As you can imagine, this has a deep impact when calculating money in foreign currency or oversea properties. Also, now it is determined if the estate or trust will be subject to state estate taxes, state inheritance taxes, and/or federal estate taxes. Then, the executor will need to pay the decedent’s final bills and the expenses of administering the estate or trust.
Furthermore, the executor will also file all applicable estate tax returns and/or inheritance tax returns, the decedent’s final income tax return(s) and initial and final estate or trust income tax returns. And it must do that as fast as possible, in order to avoid penalties.
I’ve previously written an article explaining how to get winding up petitions dismissed and withdrawn and another, five months later, revealing how HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was responsible for issuing the vast majority of winding up petitions in Britain.
Sadly, very little has changed over the past three years and today, HMRC issues approximately 80 per cent of the winding up petitions received by the High Court in London – around 800 every month.
HMRC issues approximately 80 per cent of the winding up petitions received by the High Court in London – around 800 every month.
If you are behind on your VAT or PAYE tax returns; HMRC has imposed penalty charges on you; or moved your records from a local office to their collections department, chances are you have probably already been issued with a winding up petition, or soon will be.
In order to consider their options comprehensively, the director(s) must acknowledge the company is insolvent and unable to pay bills as and when they are due.
Nevertheless, a winding up petition from HMRC does not necessarily mean the company will face a compulsory liquidation.
The second article (posted in November 2010), notes how a director who receives a winding up petition from HMRC avoided closing down his business by entering into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).
In addition to a CVA, there are several available options:
1) The quickest and simplest solution is to pay the petition in full before the hearing date.
2) The director(s) may attempt to save the company by allowing it to go into liquidation, especially if there is nothing worth saving and the company has no value. They can incorporate a new company and continue trading, usually with the assets from the previous company.
3) Another viable option is a pre-pack administration, whereby the company enters into administration so it can be protected from creditors. Then, all the assets are bought back from the administrator and trade starts again, but without the barrier of having to deal with old creditors.
4) Make representation to HMRC and ask for an adjournment of the first hearing date. Providing they receive a substantial payment, usually 50 per cent of the amount owed, the court should agree.
5) Usually, petitions are preceded by a lengthy period of warnings, reminders and notices of proceedings. If you have not done so already, make representation to HMRC for an adjournment to get more time to pay the bill.