A new study has recently revealed that traditional law firms/solicitors remain the most popular option for consumers in the wills and probate market.
In fact, 54% turned to a lawyer for their will according to 2023’s annual IRN Legal survey. Slightly worryingly, this has slipped from the 56% result, pre-COVID, in 2020. The drop can probably be explained by the increase in will-writing services and individuals.1 The use by consumers of such services has increased from 19% (three years ago) to 23%, as seen in the latest survey. Advisers at banks, building societies, accountants, or other financial services were used by 5% of those surveyed.
The below graphic shows us the results in more detail, as it breaks it down into the use of lawyers/solicitors versus other will-writers, by consumer age group.
I see it as important and gratifying to note that the clients of an age group where financial advisers are likely to be discussing IHT and next generational planning are still far more likely to use a solicitor than a will-writer.
Thankfully, the number that decide to go down the DIY-will route has decreased from 12% to 8% post pandemic, despite the increasing range of online enabling options. The survey suggests that the ‘relatively low cost’ of using lawyers for most wills may be the factor behind the reducing interest in DIY wills. We hope this represents an intelligent response by the solicitor market to transparency, and the competition from other channels. However, as widely reported late last summer, the substantial increase in disputed wills in 2022, up 37%, was in no small part attributed to the previous increase in DIY wills, so this will surely have had an impact.
The IRN Legal report was also very enlightening in digging deeper into why consumers chose the solicitor/lawyer they did for their will.
- 38% simply returned to a provider they had previously used for another legal services – Good news here for solicitors that there is demonstrable indication of client retention/loyalty;
- 19% were recommended to the solicitor by someone they trusted – Interestingly, this percentage is far higher in the younger age groups. This will of course include family and friends, but will undoubtedly also include trusted advisers, such as an individual’s financial adviser! The role that financial advisers can play in referring clients to solicitors for wills, and of course LPAs, cannot be understated;
- 10% were persuaded by a charity, which is up 7% from 2018, and would coincide with the increase in charity advertising and promotion over the period since;
- Only 2% arrived at their provider via a comparison site. This further illustrates the point SIFA Pro has continually made, that despite our support of the SRA’s drive for more transparency, the personal referral will always outweigh the impersonal comparison site recommendation.
David Seager | Consulting Adviser to SIFA Professional
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