Research show growth and optimism in Wills and Probate Market

Latest research findings show increased confidence and workload in the Wills and probate market.

Market research consultancy, IRN Research, this week published the Wills, Probate & Trusts Market Report 2020: Market Trends Report which looks at the market structure, key issues, new and future developments, trends and forecasts. The UK Wills, Probate & Trusts Market Report 2020 is the 7th edition of an annual research report from IRN Research.

The research revealed a market forecast growth at an average of 4% a year from 2020 to 2023 – with many Will writers and probate practitioners currently more optimistic than they have been for years. A survey of the practitioners revealed 76% are expecting workload to increase in the next 12 months – this is higher than 75% last year and 69% in 2018.

Market value growth in the Wills, trusts and probate market is estimated to increase by 4.3% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Both Wills and probate services have experienced growth in 2020, while probate and estate administration has been stronger. At the beginning of the pandemic it seemingly looked like it was encouraging more individuals to contemplate making a Will to protect their loved ones but lockdown and continuous social distancing caused major difficulties in completing Wills. During the unprecedented pandemic the number of deaths rose significantly which caused a pent-up demand for probate advice which has unfortunately led to more complex and contentious probate work due to those dying intestate.

Consumer findings revealed that when seeking professional help when making a Will, 56% still instruct a solicitor/law firm and 8 out of 10 consumers still use a solicitor or law firm when getting help with probate. However, research found that some start-ups are beginning to take a bite out of the market share.

Due to the increased demand of Wills and probate services during the pandemic, law firms and solicitors have seen an increased workload again in contentious wills, probate, and trusts in 2020, which saw similar increases in 2018 and 2019 also.

In 2019, the number of grants of representation in England in Wales had reduced from the year before, as there were 237,130 grants in 2019 whereas there were 264,486 in 2018. As Grant applications generally follow the death numbers, 2020 is sadly going to see the number of deaths increase to a much higher level than in 2019. Official data collected up to September 2020 for England and Wales revealed a 15.9% increase on the same period in 2019.

The report found that the number of powers of attorney (POAs) applied for continues to increase year-on-year and had surpassed 900,000 in 2019.

Interestingly, there was a key trend in the report which would influence the market. The findings found that the UK population aged over 55 is increasing at a fast rate, more so than the rest of the population. The reported stated “In 2019, 30.7% of the population is estimated to be aged 55 and above, compared with 30.4% in 2018 and just 27% back in 2002. The percentage of the population aged 65 and over is now 18.5% increasing from 18.4% in 2018 and just 15.9% in 2002.”

With the older population growing and living longer they are more likely to make a Will or change their Wills, plus there will be more demand for LPAs and guardianships and other services such as funeral plans and care plans.

The report pinpoints market obstacles as being “The long-term decreases in the death rate which might make consumers postpone making a will and post-death financial arrangements until later in their lives. As well as free wills, simple wills can be purchased for as little as £20 to £40 and, amongst the traditional sources of wills advice like law firms and solicitors, fixed prices now dominate. The starting price in our survey for a simple single will prepared by a legal professional from a law firm is £125.”

Covid-19 has caused chaos across the legal landscape, and before now the Wills, probate and trust sector has shied away from a digital world, especially in the Wills field, but it has taken an unprecedented pandemic to radically shift the mindset into the 21st century. The report indicates that as the sector continues to grow steadily over the next few years service delivery will move “increasingly towards digital platforms and video.”


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