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Online Wills - Are They Worth the Paper They're Not Written On?

  • ID: 5459588
  • Report
  • October 2021
  • Region: Global
  • 26 Pages
  • Funeral Solution Expert
Simple Online Wills Have Surged in the UK - But Are They Risky for Consumers?

The use of online wills in the UK has surged, fuelled by the pandemic and the rise of slick online technology offerings. This independent and unbiased research reveals concerns however, whether consumers really know what they are buying and whether a simple online meets their needs. 

The publisher conducted two surveys among 1,500 UK consumers in the first half of 2021 and reviewed over 25 online firms and also consulted with industry experts. The author tested online will writing propositions ranging from low or no cost to the more expensive, and tested user experience ranging from traditional longer forms to slick and transformative journeys. 

The publisher examined whether consumers understood their own affairs and were they ‘simple’ or ‘complex’ and whether they understood what they were signing up to. Key concerns are outlined with this sector which need to be considered and some clear consumer guidance is summarised to help those looking to make a will - which every UK adult should do. 

This report details the full findings and will be valuable for organisations thinking of offering online wills, will writers themselves, media, consumer influencers, and anyone seeking to better understand this market sector.

The report provides evidence that: 

  • Online will writers don’t always ask sufficient questions to determine if a ‘simple’ will is suitable for an individual’s circumstances or indicate to a customer that a simple will may not work for them. 
  • Most online wills are unsuitable for people with complicated circumstances, yet 65% of consumers who believe their affairs are simple, actually have complex circumstances. 
  • A sizeable proportion (23%) of consumers do not bother to read or even understand the terms of the will they are entering into and signing. 
  • Online will writers offer very little liability for something going wrong. 
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1. Introduction and executive summary

2. Methodology

3. The will writing and online will writing market size

4. Market insight
4.1 Types of will writing provider
4.2 Online will writing methods
4.3 How will writers position themselves
4.4 The customer experience
4.5 Price and features
4.6 Related products and services
4.7 Heritage and expertise
4.8 Additional analysis

5. Consumer insight 
5.1 Consumers expect wills to include legal advice
5.2 Consumer awareness and confidence of own needs
5.3 Reading (and understanding) the small print
5.4 Aspects of our lives that might mean a simple will is not suitable
5.5 More complex circumstances
5.6 Events that led to changing a will or writing a new one

6. Conclusions

7. Expert comment and consumer guidance

Appendix: About the Publisher and Trajectory partnership

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This research study of UK online wills market shows there are some concerns for consumers and likelihood for an increase in future contested wills. Consumer research of 1,500 UK adults - across 2 separate surveys (3,000 people in total) and of 26 online wills providers leads to the following headline conclusions.

The online will writing sector is fiercely competitive. Some excellent propositions have emerged in recent years at zero or very low cost, which do offer well guided journeys.
However, we find that it is not always clear to the consumer of the risks of getting their will wrong, and in many cases insufficient checks for suitability. The consumer does not always know if their affairs are ‘simple’ or ‘complex’ (68% believe ‘simple’ but reveal through questioning they have ‘complex’ circumstances).

Consumers are neither in position to check for themselves as to the suitability, nor qualified enough to inspect the terms and conditions to assess the risks and suitability of what is being offered to them. 23% do not read the terms they are entering into or understand them. 

It seems as if the consequence of the risk of getting it wrong is stacked firmly in favour of the will writing firm and not the consumer. Some providers write in their terms and conditions that they limit their liability for the services they provide to the price paid or very little more than that. That hardly seems fair or adequate given what’s at stake. And the main trouble with a will being that if the one you make is not suitable - then it will be years down the line when if things do go wrong and the next of kin (family) need to complain they need somewhere to go to. The UK will-writing sector is largely unregulated, most online will writing firms do not belong to the SRA and many do not belong to recognised trade bodies either. This research paper explores all of these issues and also provides guidance to consumers in making a will - which we believe every UK adult should do.

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