The COVID pandemic has almost tripled the number of will writers offering remote services in England and Wales, according to the Trends in Will Writing survey conducted by Capacity Vault Ltd.
Run in December 2020, the study asked members of the Society of Will Writers and Institute of Professional Will Writers about their experiences of writing wills during the pandemic.
The results showed that 95% of will writers surveyed have taken instructions remotely since the start of the COVID pandemic, up from 32% before March 2020.
The most common ways of taking instructions remotely included video calls (79%), over the phone (66%) and by email (25%). Almost one in ten will writers (8%) had taken instructions via text message or WhatsApp chat.
The Capacity Vault survey results largely agree with the findings of the SRA and Oxford University Technology and Innovation in Legal Services report published last year, which revealed that the area of wills, probate and trusts ranked highly in early tech adopter surveys, scoring as the second largest group of respondents currently using, or planning to use legal technology.
But Capacity Vault’s survey indicates that will writers are concerned about remote wills being challenged at court. Almost half of those surveyed (45%) felt that clients of traditional will writers lacked protection from challenge on capacity grounds. This increased to 86% for clients of online will services. Similar worries were raised about protection from undue influence and fraud.
“Will writing professionals have adapted to provide their services remotely. This brings greater risk of challenge to wills. Fortunately new technologies can protect clients’ wishes. AI and blockchain technologies can reduce the need for time-consuming legal and medical professional’s reports,” said Oliver Asha, solicitor and founder of Capacity Vault.