Figures for solicitor-drafted wills show an unexpected increase post-deregulation

New research from charity, Will Aid, shows that solicitor drafted wills have not lost their popularity post-deregulation in 2011

Will Aid has now been championing its cause of encouraging the population to write solicitor-drafted wills since 1988, and is the most successful charity of its kind.

Recent data collected by the charity has revealed that solicitors have not been affected by the deregulation of wills providers in 2011, as was a previous worry for probate professionals. It was feared that with an influx of cheaper options available on the market, solicitor-drafted wills would become less in demand. However, the data retrieved by Will Aid suggests the opposite, and that wills drafted by solicitors have arguably been revealed as the preferred option.

When compared with the four years prior to 2015, the figures demonstrate that the percentage of the population choosing solicitors to write their wills has increased in the four years post the 2011 deregulation. In contrast, the numbers of people using a will-writer to draft a will has dropped from 17.9% in 2008 to 10.5% in 2015.

As a will writer, whether a solicitor or trained professional, do these figures come as a surprise? What do you think is the reasoning behind this, and is there anything non-solicitors can do to encourage consumer confidence?

Firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, whose professional negligence team strive to stamp out will writing negligence, have noted that the public are generally unaware that will writers do not require credentials, regulation or insurance in order to practise. Whilst many will writers are very reliable in their own right, the risk of using them compared with solicitors is undoubtedly greater in terms of regulation and insurance.

Will Aid’s research has also found that the numbers of do-it-yourself (DIY) and homemade wills have increased in recent years from 1.6% in 2009 to 3.4% in 2015 for the former, and from 3.6% to 7.7% for the latter. It is these wills in particular that are a concern for the charity, finding homemade and DIY wills are much easier to contest in court than those written by a qualified solicitor.

On the whole, the statistics demonstrate positive news for solicitors in the industry, but a downturn for other will writing professionals. It is now more important than ever that a qualified professional is in charge of drafting a client’s will, with court cases frequently demonstrating that the documents can often be challenged by those beneficiaries displeased with the results. So how can the outlook for the non-legal professionals be changed?

Peter de Vena Franks, Campaign Director for Will Aid, has commented on the findings, stating that ‘with a solicitor you can be assured of a valid will and if anything does go wrong there is proper insurance and redress. This may not be the case with an unregulated provider and certainly isn’t the case if you write your own will’.

It is important that clients receive the highest level of expertise available in order to protect their estate and assets, and Will Aid’s research has demonstrated that public awareness of this is growing.

What are your views on the 2011 deregulation? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Today's Wills and Probate