• April 19, 2024
 Friends Legal partners with Today’s Wills and Probate

Friends Legal partners with Today’s Wills and Probate

A Scottish legal firm has launched a new, fixed cost private-client service to deal with legal side of death. They are also the first Scottish firm to become a partner with Today’s Wills and Probate.

Friends Legal has launched their new By Your Side brand to tackle what it said was the “often crippling cost of afterlife legal services” in Scotland.

It aims to make the legal side of death more accessible, affordable and transparent for bereaved families. They also aim to promote themselves as the “go to” firm for probate businesses in England and Wales who may have Scottish customers.

Services include an innovative low-cost Helping Hand product, which assists families to navigate the legal process themselves.

A table of fees will be published so consumers understand costs in advance and can compare them with those of rival firms.

Friends Legal will charge £95 including VAT for a simple will and £180 for a mirror, prepared within five days. For comparison Coop Legal Services in Scotland charges start at £150 for a single will and £245 for a mirror.

Charges will range from £250 for the Helping Hand service to a fixed fee of £8,500 for an estate worth between £750,000 and £1m, with all fees inclusive of VAT.

Most legal practices north of the border still charge a fixed percentage of an estate – which can be as high as 6% – or hourly rates which can be as much as £300 an hour.

Among four rival firms canvassed for costs for settling simple estates worth £200,000, prices ranged from £3,000 to £4,200, with VAT included, Friends Legal said.

Friends Legal will charge £1,800, VAT inclusive.

Friends Legal managing partner Tony O’Malley said:

“Dealing with the loss of a loved one is tough. Bereaved people are vulnerable, often feel short of time and energy, and bad choices can result.

“There should be mandatory price transparency for afterlife legal services so families know exactly what they are getting, what it costs and how it compares with other firms.

“The Law Society of Scotland is introducing transparency guidance by the end of January 2021 which is helpful, but it remains to be seen how effective this will be.

“If you visit any number of solicitors’ websites, for example, it can be extremely complicated to work out what you have to pay, if you find fees mentioned at all.

“This needs to change, and the interests of bereaved families put first.

“The private-client market in Scotland is in need of challenge as is happening in England where there is real competition. The Scottish market generally is still very traditional and lacking in innovation and true competition. There are far more unregulated Will and probate providers active in England and Wales and that has brought true competition and investment. The probate services in Scotland are still very much solicitor led and in my view operate an outdated and expensive model.”

The launch of the new service is being marketed via a nationwide television and multimedia campaign.

Friends Legal has established a new team to facilitate the service.

Amy Wardrop joins as head of legal having worked in the private-client team of Thompsons Solicitors, bringing a range of knowledge in Trusts, estate administration and in IT platform development.

Accredited will writers Anita Barlow and Rose Arthur join the Wills and Power of Attorney team having previously worked at Golden Charter.

Amy Mclaughlin has a supply chain background and been appointed marketing and charities partnership manager.

Tom Heaphy joins as business development consultant, bringing more than 20 years’ experience in business development, CRM and compliance, latterly with TSB.

The firm said the use of advanced technology will help keep costs down and maximise efficiency of service.

This will include anti-money-laundering software from Amiqus, will-writing software from Arken.

Friends Legal has also formed an important partnership with innovative Glasgow-based legal services tech startup, Exizent.

Exizent’s technology platform to simplify estate administration is transforming bereavement by integrating legal services firms with banks and the wider financial services community.

Mr O’Malley said:

“Their executry platform puts everything in one place and makes it easier for us to provide a high quality and efficient service to our clients.

“This eases the burden on executors and their families, which aligns with our mission to make the process of death as stress-free as possible.

“The partnership works well on both sides as we are also assisting them in developing solutions when they arise in live cases.

“We will be able to streamline our administration and case organisation, leaving us more time to work with our clients directly on their needs.

“Exizent share our belief that everyone should feel able to turn to a legal firm to get help with afterlife services, without it being prohibitively expensive or difficult.

“They believe in the power of platforms to connect people and perform more efficiently, quickly and securely. We are looking forward to working with the Exizent team, and to an improved service for our clients.”

Jennifer van Deursen