Consumers are increasingly interested in add-on services to will-writing, such as funeral plans, and are also more open to online delivery of those services than before, new research has found.
It also highlighted the fragmented nature of the wills and probate market, with little brand recognition and no provider with more than a 7% market share.
IRN Legal’s biennial UK Wills & Probate Consumer Research Report surveyed 606 adults with a will and 257 adults involved in probate.
It also asked a sample of adults without a will why they have not written one – with ‘I haven’t go round to it’ the most common answer.
The percentage of adults with a will remained static at around 35%. While this suggested that new market growth “could be difficult to find”, IRN said, many respondents expressed an interest in additional services, such as advice on powers of attorney – the most popular add-on – funeral plans, retirement plans, living wills and tax advice.
IRN said this marked a significant opportunity given that the survey found that 68% of those using a legal adviser to prepare their will did not use any other services.
Law firms have more than half the wills market (54%, which has changed little over recent years) but specialist will-writers or will-writing services continue to increase their share, up from 19% to 23% in the latest report.
When choosing a professional adviser, 38% went back to a law firm or solicitor they had used in the past, while 9% were offered will-writing advice after they had completed another legal matter with the firm.
One in 10 people chose their advice off the back of promotions by charities, while almost a quarter of adults have started to include a charitable donation in their will or would include a donation if they made one. This is the highest percentage recorded to date.
Awareness of leading will-writing brands was “mixed and use is relatively low”, with Co-operative Legal Services the only one recognised by a majority of respondents.
But even then, the crowded nature of the market meant the Co-op, though the biggest player, only had a 7% market share, followed by Irwin Mitchell, recognised by 46% of respondents but only used by 3%.
The only other brands to register double-digit awareness were Slater & Gordon, Which Legal, Shoosmiths, Thompsons and Bequeathed.
The number of adults who would be comfortable with online consultations and witnessing of wills has jumped since the last survey.
“Those law firms and other legal providers that have embraced online delivery of services are in the best position to take advantage of these emerging consumer preferences,” IRN said.
While fixed fees have been the dominant pricing option for wills for several years, “they are now increasing their role in the probate and estate administration sector as well”, the report noted.