Cancer Research launches free will service with unregulated provider

Wills: Farewill expects to have tenth of market

Cancer Research UK, the biggest recipient of legacies in the country, has launched a free online will service with a leading unregulated will writer, it has emerged.

Farewill, which uses unqualified will checkers instead of solicitors, has grown rapidly since its launch in 2017 and says it expects to be writing one in ten wills by the end of this year, making it the biggest will writer in the country.

The London-based business, which charges £90 for ‘professionally checked’ wills, raised £7.5m in its second funding round earlier this year from Augmentum Fintech and Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of global payments service Transferwise, among others.

Farewill was originally launched with backing from the founders of property website Zoopla and former loans business Wonga, with further investment coming from the Daily Mail & General Trust.

Cancer Research UK was reported in 2017 to have received over £177m in legacies in the previous financial year – almost £60m ahead of the RNLI in second place.

On the ‘free wills’ page of its website, the charity offers potential donors the chance to write their will “online in 30 minutes with professional support from Farewill, the largest will writer in the UK”.

As an alternative, those wanting face-to-face advice are offered the chance to write or update their will in person “with one of our nationwide partnered solicitors”.

Holly Eggleston, head of legacy planning, development and operations at the charity, told Legal Futures: “Cancer Research UK has been working with Farewill since October 2018 after a thorough tender and procurement process. The service went live on our website in June 2019.

“Supporter experience was a key factor in choosing to work with Farewill as there is a clear need for simple and accessible will-writing.

“More than one-third of all our funding comes from gifts in wills, which means that people who leave gifts to us fund a third of our life-saving work. This work is vital in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and has helped save millions of lives.”

Farewill uses an algorithm to allow online users to create a will in half an hour. Its will checkers manually check each will before it is returned to the customer for witnessing. It charges £90 for individuals, £140 for couples and £10 year for unlimited updates.

According to its website, it has raised over £100m for a range of charities through donations left via its online wills, including Macmillan Cancer Support and Save the Children.

Legal Futures contacted Farewill for a comment, but none was forthcoming.

Cancer Research also works with Co-op Legal Services. A spokeswoman for the Co-op said the two organisations would continue to work together.

Jonathan Brewer, founder of Bequeathed, a service which helps customers write a free will online but also prompts them to contact solicitors for advice, said the will-writing market was changing and the deal between Cancer Research and Farewill could represent a “tipping point”.

He went on: “Law firms are being challenged by online will writers in an environment where some consumers are making decisions without the right information. Our process helps them decide when to get advice.”

Mr Brewer said Bequeathed was funded by subscriptions from its eight law firm subscribers and the 30 charities it worked with, including the RNLI, RNIB, Mencap and the British Red Cross.

He added that Bequeathed was in discussions with a further 11 law firms.

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