The Fellowship of Professional Willwriters and Probate Practitioners have released a survey showing that consumers are completely confused by will writers, with 67% of them thinking that to write a will you need to be a qualified solicitor.
The main feature of this is that as lawyers the profession has remained pretty hopeless at marketing, thanks to the various restrictions that remained in place until recent times, and this has resulted in firms not being able to market their unique feature in the wills market place, which is namely that you can almost guarantee the price for writing a will will be a perfectly reasonable one, rather than some of the ridiculous figures some will writing companies come up with.
A few years ago, an elderly relative called one of the will companies from a local newspaper advert and had two wills drawn up (for assets of about £75,000), with no requirements at all in relation to beneficiaries etc.. and for this the will writer spent an hour at the house selling a number of different insurance products, as well as add-on services. The total cost was about £400 for the wills and about £250 a year for storage charges. The elderly relative was convinced he had got the will prepared by a solicitor, as the salesman had given him so many membership details he had sounded professional. The will looked appalling – it was almost as if the salesman had been into WHSmiths and photocopied a “Write your own Will” pack.
It is this point that perhaps solicitors and other lawyers have a genuine advantage over non-qualified will writers – the marketing point has to be precisely this – price, which will be less due to regulatory restrictions, professionalism and quality.
I appreciate that there is a market out there if you intend to overcharge for services not required, but surely this must apply as well to people in genuine need of a will being written professionally and at a reasonable price.