Use of solicitors for wills falls but firms get better at cross-selling

Will: More people doing their own

The proportion of people using a solicitor for their will has continued to fall and is now down to 50%, five percentage points lower than in 2019, a report has found.

However, it identified that law firms are getting better at cross-selling, with more clients than in previous years (44%) buying related services, such as lasting powers of attorney, will storage and funeral plans.

Though the percentage of those with a will hardly changes from year to year (between 36% and 40%), the market continues to expand as the size of the adult population grows.

A growing proportion (11%) are writing a will themselves – a further 7% started one but then sought help – while around one in five use unregulated advisers, according to IRN Legal Reports.

Its UK Wills & Probate Consumer Research Report 2024 comes as the Competition and Markets Authority is investigating unregulated will writing and pre-paid probate services (as well as online divorce) and recently warned them not to make “misleading comparisons” with solicitors.

IRN surveyed 676 consumers who had made a will and 280 who had been involved in estate administration. Over 25% were under the false impression that all will-writing services were regulated.

It found that over half of those without a will said they have just not got round to it: “So, many adults understand the need to make a will and a tipping point could be persuading more in the 45 to 54 age group to ‘get round to it’… There are also significant numbers of those in higher income households that have yet to make a will.”

The report said law firms were more likely to be the choice for older consumers – many of whom turn to solicitors they have used before for other legal matters. Use of specialist will-writing services was “more evenly spread across the age groups. although there is more use amongst 25 to 34 year olds”.

More and more adults working through probate were also deciding to handle it themselves with no professional advice, IRN said, “a reflection of the fact that, for most, probate is seen as a simple process. However, a longer than expected probate journey is an issue for one in four executors”.

Fixed fees dominate the wills market “more than any other consumer law sector”, with the proportion of consumers paying this way rising by six percentage points to 85%.

Almost two-thirds of consumers using estate administration services paid a fixed fee, a similar proportion to the year before. Hourly rate charges were only “likely to apply on complicated estates or contested estates”.

Researchers said the median fee for a will, based on survey responses, was around £125.

Their work also found consumers split on the electronic writing and witnessing of wills

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