Upsells and Wills, what to watch out for.

A number of clients contact us, having been upset by requests for payment of much greater sums than anticipated (known as an upsell), by a supplier engaged to make their Will. In this article I want to look at situations in which pricing opacity and disparity prove problematic. 

Before I begin, I should make clear that a majority (around two thirds) of clients, are perfectly happy with the firm they appoint to create their Will (there’s no statistical difference between solicitors and Will writers in this regard, though DIY/online users fare less well). Only around 5% feel forced to spend more than anticipated because of an upsell (albeit this is far too many), though around a quarter report spending more than they wish. 

I shall present three (non-exhaustive, though representative) examples of experiences of Confidence Wills’ clients as they were reported to us, and allow you to draw your own conclusions but under no circumstances will we draw you in with a ‘cheap Will’ only to sell you something you don’t need – aggressive upselling.

The first case is that of a couple who engaged a firm in the midlands to draft their will at a rate of £185. In the event, the will writer in question visited the client’s home and sought to offer the clients a will, with a property trust for ~£4,000 (7-1,000% the going rate). On being refused, left muttering of how he’d ‘failed miserably’(audibly)! Two weeks later the clients had no Will and didn’t know which way to turn. 

The payment requested was ridiculous, there was no trust between client and professional. Worse, there was no chance of the professional doing anything other than pushing that high value service for all it’s worth. No-one was listened to, or got what they wanted, even the optimistic salesman ended up £185 down on the day. 

The second case, is perhaps the most common configuration which we encounter. Our client, another couple, based in Manchester, took up a firm on their offer to make a will at a rate of £20 (on a discount app). They were subsequently offered a will with a trust in it for around £800. This is a fairly common marketing strategy employed by some firms. The Will Writing industry is pretty efficient economically and you can bet that those approaching you with very low fees up front make it up somewhere. As mentioned, this is known as an upsell. There is a distinct difference between offering something someone needs and drawing someone in with a price that you know client’s  won’t be paying.

The model involves taking up a lot of clients’ time, information gathering, on the basis of a very low-priced offering, building inertia and offering inflated services later. We have had clients approach us and ask us to unravel these documents without starting from scratch, of course we can’t. Don’t be fooled, if it looks too good to be true it probably is.  If you’re in this position, before you pay, speak to us and get some advice.

Finally, I want to report the case of a lady in Maidenhead. Her case is unusual; however, the consequences potentially extreme. She appointed a firm of solicitors to make her Will. They quoted around £200 for the service. On the day the professional requested £1,800 to put the lady’s home into a lifetime trust (to ‘protect it from care fees’). From a cost perspective, the price isn’t extreme, these arrangements do run into the low thousands. The problem is the product itself. Not only do lifetime trusts like this cause unnecessary paperwork, THEY DO NOT WORK! This arrangement creates a ‘reservation of benefit’. They shouldn’t be offered. There are still firms (of solicitors) presenting these to clients. Steer well clear, this presents a potentially catastrophic risk to those left behind. If encountered, you should contact the law society or the Society of Will Writers to report it. 

If you’re considering these issues, I urge you to act now, speak to our client advice team on 0121 202 4714 or click here and we’ll call you.