UK Wills & Probate Consumer Research Report 2020 released

Up to date research into the UK Wills and Probate Consumer Research found clear consumer interest in virtual consultations, digital probate applications and online court proceedings.

The IRN’s consumer report entitled ‘Wills & Probate Consumer Research Report 2020‘ is the third edition of this report offering insights into consumer behaviour, perceptions, brand awareness, and opinions – and is based on responses from 2,093 adults (755 with a will, 568 been through probate).

IRN Research said:

“Will writing is still an activity which most individuals fail to prioritise. It becomes of greater importance as consumers get older, and/or build up assets and this is reflected in our latest survey: as in previous years it is the older age groups – 55 and over – where will ownership is very high and will ownership in all age groups below 55 is much lower. Dealing with probate is also an activity that is largely the preserve of older adults. Law firms and solicitors are still used by a majority for both wills and probate advice, despite increased competition from others.”

Key findings include: 

“• COVID-19 has had a short-term impact but there are also longer-term effects that seem to have been accelerated by the pandemic. First, 4% of those making a will say that they were persuaded to do this as a response to the virus. Virtual consultations and online court hearings have become part of the legal process during the pandemic and feedback suggests that they are here to stay: over half of all consumers say that they would be happy to have a virtual consultation, and 40% would be willing to take part in online court proceedings, twice as many that would still prefer a physical court appearance.

• Video witnessing of wills would be acceptable to over a third while over half would be willing to use the MoJ’s online probate portal in the future if they had to deal with straightforward probate. Already, almost a third of those involved in probate have used it.

• Fixed fees now account for the overwhelming majority of fees paid in the wills market and almost half of probate fees as competition increases in both sectors.

• This year there has also been some modest increase in the use of related services, for example advice on powers of attorney (POAs), living wills, and retirement planning. Plus, more consumers than in previous years across the overall sample express an interest in using these other services.

• While the sector is still populated by many small firms, four volume brands are well ahead of the pack in terms of consumer awareness: Cooperative Legal Services, Slater & Gordon, Irwin Mitchell, and Which Legal. Although some way behind these four, a relatively new entrant to the market – Bequeathed – is already in fifth place in terms of consumer awareness out of the 15 brands surveyed.

• Consumer confusion over regulation in the sector is still a major concern and the lack of understanding about the difference between regulated and unregulated providers has worsened in 2020: over six out of 10 consumers assume that the sector is regulated and the percentage confused about regulation has increased again in 2020 after increasing in 2019. This confusion is likely to be compromising consumer choice.”

 

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