UK Wills, Probate & Trusts Market – IRN Legal Market Briefing

The UK Wills & Probate Market Briefing 2017 is the fourth edition of an annual Legal Market Briefing from IRN Research and provides an overview of the UK wills, probate & trusts market.

Each year around 4 million adults make a will and 3.6 million handle probate/estate administration matters. Despite this relatively large market size, it remains a largely unregulated market relative to other sectors of the law, and remains very fragmented, primarily made up of small and medium-sized solicitors and unregulated will and probate firms.

The wills, probate and trusts market is expected to see modest but steady growth in the future, supported by a rising number of deaths each year and the continuing aging of the UK population. There are a number of possible developments in the pipeline which could radically change the market. Among these are:

• Potentially making will writing a regulated activity.
• Enforcing solicitors to publish on their websites their prices (and their complaints data).
• Changing the legal forms of wills, allowing electronic wills, video wills and audio wills, which opens the prospect for the electronic storage of wills.
• The greater introduction of new technology into the market such as automation of legal forms and precedents, cloud-based practice management solutions, digital submission of forms to the HMRC and an online probate service.
• In England and Wales, the lowering of the minimum age of testators from 18 to 16 and applying the test of capacity in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to wills.
• The introduction of the Code of Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation, meaning law firms must be more careful when handling wills, trusts ad inheritance tax issues.
• The introduction of a new UK Trust Register, which might make trusts less attractive to those wanting anonymity.

40 practitioners in the sector responded to an IRN survey on workload and revenues: 63% are expecting an increase in workload in the next 12 months (compared to 60% in last year’s survey).

The briefing (51pp, PDF), is available directly from IRN Research, priced at £180. UK sterling price is plus VAT so total price is £216.

The UK Wills, Probate & Trusts Market Briefing is one of a series of briefings produced each year with others covering B2B Legal Services, Conveyancing, Family Law, and Personal Injury. Briefings provide details of: historical market size and trends; future trends and forecasts; industry opinion surveys; market drivers; key players; commentary on key issues impacting on the market.

Wills, Probate & Trusts Table of Contents
It’s a large but very fragmented market
It’s a market driven by age and death
A market held back by consumers adopting an ostrich approach to the future
Price transparency and regulation are possible future scenarios

Wills and Probate
Legal Guardianship

Official Regulation
Professional Regulation
A Fragmented Market
Law Firms and Solicitors
Unregulated Companies
Other Probate Providers

Ageing population could aid the market
Number of deaths rising but the incidence of death in decline
Growth of dementia
Ignorance is holding the market back…
Because many consumers don’t want to think about the future…
A fact compounded by the lack of big brands
Changing patterns of family life
Rise of probate fees cancelled
Growing pressure for price transparency
Potential regulation of will writing in England and Wales…
And new regulations could also come into force in Scotland
The law on wills could also be changed in England and Wales
Changes in tax rules make trusts less attractive….
And new inheritance tax changes mean trust holder could lose out
Law firms need to be careful not to assist tax avoidance when giving advice
The New UK Trust Register

Co-op Legal Services
Blake Morgan LLP
Bond Dickinson LLP
Boodle Hatfield LLP
Clarke Willmott LLP
Charles Russell Speechlys LLP
Estate Planning Group (Holdings) Ltd
Hugh James LLP
Kings Court Trust
Lawpack Publishing Ltd
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors
Mills & Reeve LLP
Penningtons Manches LLP
Redstone Wills
Shoosmiths LLP
Simplify Group/Chorus Law Group
Simpson Millar Solicitors LLP
Slater & Gordon
Thompsons Solicitors
Trust Inheritance Ltd
Which? Legal
A market valued at around £1.3 billion
The will writing market is valued at £300 million
162,000 Trusts in existence
Court proceedings

Market Forecasts
An ageing population should make will and probate services more relevant
Market to reach £1.6 billion by 2022
A low priced offer could open the mass market
New technology could change the market
Wills & Probate Practitioner Survey

IRN Research

Established in 1991, IRN Research is a market research consultancy with a particular focus on the legal services market. We offer a range of bespoke research services, on an ad-hoc and continuous basis, to law firms and suppliers to the sector. These services include client satisfaction surveys, market studies and competitor intelligence, client industry reports, and strategic studies.


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