Online Wills – the future or too risky?
When it comes to the subject of online Wills, there are many passionate viewpoints. There is strong support from many progressive professionals and technologists who consider the service to be an essential step forward in the futureproofing of the industry.
While others are more concerned about the online process and its ability to cover the intricacies of client wishes, as well as identity and capacity verification.
Arken.legal has been pioneering online Wills since 2001 and has recently given its tried and tested system a modern, user and mobile-friendly upgrade that provides users with the same high standard Will output, but with additional customisation options.
But why offer an online Will?
Millennials are increasingly needing Wills – gaining assets, getting married, having children – they trust and expect to be able to complete a Will online, and preferably on their mobile phone. In addition, an increasing number of digital players are targeting Millennials in pursuit of ‘The Great Wealth Transfer”, where £5.5 trillion is forecast to be inherited by both Gen X and Millennials over the next 30 years, £1 trillion of which will be inherited over the next decade. The time to be reaching out to this market is now – before they inherit.
And if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we don’t know what’s around the corner. Businesses need to be flexible in the way they deliver their services and in a way in which their clients wish to buy – in 2020 that was the ability to buy immediately!
So, what’s the solution? In our opinion, it is to offer a quality, comprehensive, flexible, and secure service for straightforward instructions while at the same time generating leads for those more complex instructions.
Top 5 common objections around online Wills
Rather than list the many reasons why online Wills are the future of estate planning, we thought we’d put your mind to rest in regards to the most common misconceptions or objections around online Wills:
- “How do you assess testamentary capacity and undue influence in online Wills?”
The most common objection surrounds capacity or the need to ensure that the testator is not subject to any undue influence. Completing a Will online can offer that vulnerable person the opportunity to complete their Will in private. It can thereby reduce the risk of undue influence by enabling testators to complete a Will when they can, not at a specific time and place.
By offering a checked online Will, a professional can reduce the risk further by enquiring as to any unusual bequests or any changes from previous Wills they may hold – all of this can be done remotely.
A comprehensive online Wills system should also have a robust series of questions to allow testators to self-assess capacity and should enable them to refer to professional advice if they have any concerns in this regard.
- “Clients won’t know what they’re doing.”
If you partner with a comprehensive, quality provider to ensure the right level of guidance is given, then it is simple to produce a straightforward Will online. For example, Arken Online Wills harnesses Arken Professional’s intuitive, intelligent questionnaire to produce Will packs, which include the Will, signing instructions but also a plain English Will Commentary. The client is given the resource they need to know exactly what they’re doing. Legal language is explained in black and white in the commentary, so the client knows what they’ve created.
Additionally, you can choose whether to provide self-service delivery or a fully supervised service. It works the way you want to and what you’re most comfortable with.
But just imagine what you could do with the time you save writing straightforward Wills. If you choose the right provider, you can let your website handle them while you focus on the more complex instructions, as well as other essential areas of the business such as business development and client retention.
- “They only produce very simple Wills – a pure online process can’t cover all of the intricacies and nuances of family dynamics.”
A simple Will is very different from straightforward instructions. You’d be surprised by the complex scenarios that Arken Online Wills can cater for – from funeral directions to multiple levels of distribution. As long as they are not areas requiring specialist input, for example Trusts, complex distribution, multipart Wills, Inheritance Tax etc, then Arken Online Wills can handle a number of intricate requirements. One of the most common areas of feedback we receive from users is how detailed and comprehensive our Will packs are in comparison to others. And for those scenarios where the service is unable to cater to very unique or non-straightforward circumstances, an online Will service on your website can generate leads for more complex drafting.
Straightforward instructions can still lead to quite complex Wills but all done online, either self-service or checked by you.
- “They’re risky.”
Your terms and conditions are where you manage your risk. Arken will start you off with a suggested standard set of terms that you can adapt to suit your needs.
What’s actually risky, is not preparing your business to cater for the increasing buying preferences of Millennials – who expect, and trust, technology to deliver services immediately. You need to be thinking about how people want to buy in the future and prepare your business processes accordingly.
It is arguably far riskier for your client to fail to put a Will in place because they are put off by a perception of an expensive and time-consuming face-to-face process. This is particularly the case for the increasing number of unmarried couples, who could be seriously disadvantaged by the laws of intestacy.
- “I’m missing out on professional advice revenue.”
An online Will service will help capture new clients who wouldn’t normally visit a lawyer, such as Millennials. You then have the opportunity to build an ongoing relationship with these clients – to cross-sell services throughout their lives as circumstances change, for example conveyancing, property trusts, tax advice, as well as more complex Wills. When it comes to costings around your online Wills service, you determine what you charge, so you can offer a more expensive, checked service if you wish.
Your time is then spent on more complex, more lucrative opportunities, on business development, on client engagement – all of which will positively impact revenues.
So is an online Will the future or is it too risky? We would definitely say the future. Arguably, there is more risk in not having an online capability as modern consumers may be dissuaded from making a Will in the traditional way, they may prefer completing a Will on their mobile phone. And if you don’t offer it – someone else will. With many online Will providers disrupting the marketplace with their offerings, the increasing demand is proven – so can you afford not to offer the same?
However, If you have an existing relationship with the client, or with their extended family and friends, then they will trust you as their professional advisor to do the Will on your website, so make sure that the solution you offer is tried and tested, comprehensive, flexible and produces a great Will pack in the end.
Arken.legal will soon be announcing new additions to its Arken Online Wills solution, further enhancing efficiency and business growth and meeting client demand. Watch this space…
For more information on Arken Online Wills, please visit https://arken.legal/uk/products/arken-online-wills, email [email protected], call 01732 867 792 or book a demonstration at a time to suit you here.
Written by Samantha Warner, Head of Product at Arken.legal.