Survey says competition leads to lower price of basic wills and estate administration
Prices are being forced down by new brand names entering the market and the availability of online will services for GBP45 or less, said market research company IRN: 'More fixed price deals for wills, and the availability of online will services for as little as GBP20, will continue to weaken prices and margins.' The will-writing market is fragmented with many small players, including some unregulated ones, says the firm. There are at least 40 purely online services, whose prices are generally much lower.
However, the report findings are based on quoted fixed price rates and 'more complicated wills can be much more expensive and the pricing survey takes no account of the quality of the wills provided'.
Legal Futures also explains that 'pressure on traditional providers is also coming from consumers particularly with probate' where more and more individuals undertake estate administration without turning to a professional. Solicitors and other professional advisors still take the majority of probate work, but their share is slipping. In 2014, over 36 per cent of grants of representation were issued to private individuals compared to just 29.6 per cent in 2007.
Despite the increasing competition, there are growth prospects for these companies. Although the numbers of wills written seems to be fairly constant at about 1.2 million to 1.5 million, the number of people aged over 60 – who constitute the principal market – is increasing. There has also been very rapid growth in markets for closely linked additional services such as arranging lasting powers of attorney (LPA), which can be conveniently sold alongside will-writing. The number of LPAs has more than doubled in England and Wales since 2010 – 2011, reaching 395,000 in 2014 – 2015. Over the same period they have increased in Scotland by 44 per cent to 55,527.
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