Law firm launches fixed fee after life legal services



A legal firm has launched a fixed cost private-client service to deal with legal services for the bereaved.

Friends Legal Solicitors has launched the service to tackle what it said were “often crippling cost of after life legal services.”

It said that its aim is to make the legal side of death more accessible, quick and transparent for bereaved families.

The services include an innovative low-cost Helping Hand product which provides assistance for 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 for a simple will, prepared within five days.

Charges will range from £250 to settle a small estate 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 still charge a fixed percentage of an estate or hourly rates which can be as high 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 after life legal services so families know exactly what they are getting, what it costs and how it compares with other firms.

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“The Law Society is introducing some guidance, 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.

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

“The private-client market in Scotland is in need of challenge as is happening in England where there is real competition.

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

Friends Legal has made hires to facilitate the new 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.

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

Amy Mclaughlin has been appointed marketing manager and charities partnership manager.

Tom Heaphy joins a business development consultant, bringing more than 20 years’ experience in business development 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 Amiqis, will writing software from Arken, and a technology platform to simplify and integrate the estate administration process from Glasgow-based legal services tech startup Exizent.

Eizent’s technology is transforming bereavement by integrating legal services firms with banks and the wider financial services community.

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