Wills and probate market could top £3bn by 2027

Probate: More firms handling contentious work

The wills, trust and probate market could be worth over £3bn by 2027, new research has found.

As well as “some growing demand for will writing”, there would be “stronger demand” for powers of attorney and contentious probate.

IRN Research said in The UK Wills, Probate & Trusts Market Report 2023 that the market had an estimated value of £2.6bn in 2023, a 5.4% increase on the previous year.

It predicted that this would increase by 5% in 2024 and continue to grow at “mid-single digit levels” up to 2027, when it was expected to reach £3.1bn.

Researchers said adults over the age of 55 were making up a growing share of the UK population – over a third by 2027.

While an ageing population would “underpin some growing demand for will writing”, there would be “stronger demand for LPAs [lasting powers of attorney] and other guardianship advice”.

The number of applications to register powers of attorney increased by over 19% in 2022 to 852,000.

There was “another significant increase in applications” – of 37% – in the first half of 2023, with over 548,000 applications compared to just over 399,000 in the same period in 2022. Based on this data, applications could “pass a million” in 2023.

“An ageing population, and more adults living longer, inevitably means more demand for other services as well such as living wills… funeral plans, and care plans.”

Since most wills were “relatively simple”, it had meant that the core wills market was showing only “limited growth”.

IRN estimated that the total number of firms across the UK offering will-writing services in October 2023 – based on data from the law societies of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, at over 6,100, 300 fewer than a year earlier and 500 down compared to 2020.

“Many high street law firms, important local providers of will-writing services, have closed or merged with others in the last three years and this is a key factor behind the decline in law firm numbers.”

Researchers said there had been an 8.1% decline in law firms providing probate advice in England and Wales.

In contrast, the numbers offering advice on contentious probate, disputed wills and disputed trusts had more than doubled since 2018, with the number of firms in England and Wales listed as providing contentious probate services increasing by more a quarter to 284 in three years.

The number of firms offering services relating to disputed wills grew by 30% over the same period to 271, while there was a 41% increase in law firms offering help with disputed trusts to 183.

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