If you're someone that likes to weigh up the costs and benefits of something, then creating a will when you're under the age of 50 may not seem worthwhile. However, this consensus generally comes from the notion that wills cost hundreds of pounds to make - all whilst having an extensive meeting(s) with a lawyer.
The truth is, dying without a will can cause a lot of problems, as the people who you may want to have your possessions may not be the ones to receive them. If anything was going to make under 50s more conscious of their own mortality, it would be the ongoing global pandemic.
However, the truth behind this cost-benefit analysis is that wills no longer have to cost hundreds of pounds. Although it does depend on where you go. Online law firms are offering wills for much cheaper, and take much less time to complete. The benefit remains the same, but the cost may be around 80% less than a traditional lawyer.
The question of do I need a will at all is a clear and obvious one - we all do, regardless of our age.
The recent demand for wills
Ian Bond, who is the chair of the Law Society's Will and Equity Committee, stated that since the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of clients wanting to create a will or Lasting Power of Attorney is up by 30%.
One of the major concerns about the Coronavirus illness was its unpredictability - we didn't know much about it, but many of us saw 30-year-olds really struggling to fight it off.
Of course, this cautious attitude will slowly erode as time passes and many will begin to feel comfortable again. But, as the pandemic reminded us, crises can occur in a flash.
The market value of wills and trusts grew by 4.3% in 2020 compared to 2019 according to the UK Wills, Probate & Trusts Market Report 2020.
However, it's not just the pandemic alone that's causing this rise in demand, it's that the accessibility and cost of wills have been revolutionised by fintechs.
Online wills are exactly what they sound like - wills we complete on a website or piece of software. In general, these are blueprint forms where the customer inputs their answer to some generic, fixed questions, and a will is automatically produced using a program. However, it's important to distinguish that there are two categories of online will providers.
Firstly, there are law firms that are selling their services online. These law firms are taking the overheads associated with running a physical law office (or they have one too), out of the equation and are offering discounted services online because it's somewhat less labour-intensive. However, the company is still run by law experts and usually offer licensed lawyers as a point of contact for customers - i.e. if they're having issues with their will form or wish for it to be revised by a lawyer.
The next category is the fintech startup that is run by tech wizards who have created an incredibly slick UI for will creation. These are often the best apps and websites to use in terms of accessibility and time and UI design, but there's a risk here: there's rarely any customer support (or at least, customer support provided by a law expert). This is where the customer really relies on the sophistication of the automated will creation to be accurate.
Is the program accurate, and do they produce legitimate wills? Whilst the proposition of £15 to £40 is very enticing for a tech-based will creator, it may be worth paying a little more for the security of a law firm providing the service. However, the latter often remains to be more than 50% cheaper than attending a physical law office.
Are online wills a threat to traditional law offices?
The short answer here is no. Online wills have not stolen the customers' demand away from traditional law firms - they've created the demand. Those who are more vulnerable and/or have larger estates are still more likely to pay for more bespoke, traditional will creation. However, for those under 50 who do not feel vulnerable and would otherwise not create a will - are enticed into creating one because of the price and convenience.
The same goes for concerns over AIs impacts on the legal profession, though we are yet to see the extent to which Smart Contracts and Machine Learning offer concrete use cases.
Copyright 2022. Article was made possible by site supporter Peter Oladije