Consumers Lacking Basic Understanding of the Wills Process

A new report has highlighted a serious lack knowledge and understanding of the wills process in the general public.

The Wills & Probate Consumer Research Report 2018 found that six people out of ten were unaware that there is no regulation of will writers, although half of those questioned believed that the practice should be regulated.

Out of 1,034 adults who took part in the report, 379 had a will and 291 had been involved with the administration of an estate. 80% of those with wills had chosen a fixed fee option.

With respect to those involved in probate, almost half had used a fixed fee service, suggesting that this is a popular choice and likely to increase over time.  19% of recipients used a Will writer, and 61% of these consumers were unaware that will writers are unregulated.

One-third of those questioned would value the opportunity to deal with the preparation of a will via email and one-third used DIY websites and 68% would have a go at writing their own will to keep costs down, although the 3% who did try this ended up using a professional in the end.

15% used legal advisers recommended by family or friends while 9% found their will writer via an internet search and 40% of clients remained loyal to law firms they had previously used. Consumers are also still tending to choose solicitors and law firms rather than the other alternative markets now available.

It is estimated that two million people made a will in the last year, with around 37% overall having a will. 60% of over-55s have a will.

This leaves plenty of scope for legal service providers to raise awareness of the importance of wills, in particular informing people of the lack of regulation in the wills industry. Potential clients should be reminded that by choosing a professional Will writer or solicitor they are more likely to avoid costly mistakes and can take advantage of expert legal advice in related areas such as tax and long-term care issues.

Consumers expressed satisfaction with the services they had received from legal advisers, particularly in respect of explanations into the process and services they would received. Helpful, friendly staff and information regarding fees was also appreciated.

Interest was shown in associated services such as lasting power of attorney advice, care plans and funeral plans, suggesting this may be a growth area for the future.

How can Will writers encourage more people inclined to use DIY Will services to instead use professionals? 

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