2019 Predictions To The Changing Wills and Probate Sector

Before 2018 came to an end the Government announced the proposed new probate fees which have certainly rattled professionals in the sector and will continue to do so in 2019.

So, what will happen in the Wills and probate industry in 2019? Below, we look at key topics which could dominate the coming year.

Payment Protection Insurance (PPI)

Banks, credit card, loan, mortgage, and finance companies have been faced with huge bills after paying compensation to consumers which they had mis-sold payment protection insurance to in the past.

However, a final deadline has been set by the Financial Conduct Authority, meaning all PPI claims must be made by 29th August 2019. For the specialist claims companies who help consumers by offering to check whether PPI has been mis-sold to them will potentially be redundant in August.

So, once the deadline has passed, what will the PPI claims management insurance companies do next?

It has been speculated that the claims companies might target probate practices by searching and identifying missed assets during the estate of administration. If assets have been missed in the probate process the executor (or ‘Personal Representative’) will be accountable. The claims company will contact the beneficiary/beneficiaries to claim back compensation on their behalf, taking a percentage of what the executor is liable for.

Probate fees

In November, the Government announced proposed changes to the probate fees.

The new changes received a backlash by many professionals in the industry, many branding them as a sneaky and deceptive ‘stealth death tax’.

Only a small majority believing the increased fees could be viewed as encouraging because removing the fees from the estates under £50,000 will benefit more low income families and may be more likely to access legal services as a result.

The probate fee changes are predicted to launch in April 2019, but before then there will no doubt be a lot of updates and discussion surrounding the fees and possibly alterations to the  figures proposed initially on fees.

Rise of Will making in 2019?

The Kings Court Trust announced in their second annual report in 2018 that under half (45%) of the adult population in Great Britain have a Will, this figure has increased by 6% compared to last year when the proportion was 39%. This is encouraging as it shows that the public realise the importance of having a Will in place and hopefully more and more people will make a Will in 2019.

Last summer, the Law Commission launched a public consultation with a view to reform the laws around Will writing. At the end of this year, the Law Commission is likely to publish the outcome of the consultation which may bring some radical changes to the law on Wills – so watch this space!

Will Cyber crime increase in 2019?

Cyber crime is happening all the time and becoming more and more sophisticated. Law firms are particularly targeted due to a lot of sensitive information held on clients and their money – which provides for an extra juicy opportunity for fraudsters.

Probate are predominantly vulnerable to attacks as they deal with large amounts of money in administration of estates.

According to Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Risk Outlook 2017/18 report more than 60% of all cyber crimes reported to them are email modification frauds.

Cyber Crime continues to show no signs of slowing down and will continue into 2019. SRA reports showed that it did rise again over the last 12 months and the amount of client money reported as stolen has also again increased in 2018 – meaning law firms will need robust procedures in place in order to protect themselves from fraudsters in the year ahead.

What changes do you think we will see in the Wills and probate market in 2019?