Pre-paid Probate Plans

Pre-paid Probate Plans

There is an apparent rise in firms offering pre-paid probate plans (PPP).  These plans are completely unregulated and there is little information available regarding their quality.  In the past many buyers have been left high and dry having invested typically up to £3,000 in a PPP only for their Executors to find out after the buyer’s death the firm that had sold the PPP had disappeared along with the money!

Professional bodies such as the Society of Will Writers are amending their Codes of Practice for members to outlaw the taking of advance payments for estate administration (i. e. probate) services.

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has expressed strong concerns about the miss-selling of PPP plans.  In their consultation of will writing, probate and estate administration services, they state:

“Prepaid probate is, in our opinion, the largest dormant but inevitable disaster that will hit the whole sector. For many decades (over 50 years), Wills have been written as a loss leader to lock beneficiaries into using the firm, company or individual as executor. More worrying is the situation where testators have been miss-sold a package by misleading claims about current estate administration charges (by quoting the high bank executor and trustee fees of over 4%) and guaranteeing that the estate will not be charged more than for example 1.5% or 2% which can already easily be found in the current market. For this worthless guarantee, the testator pays between £1,000 and £2,500. Many have misunderstood and see this as payment towards the administration or at least believe that the guarantee is enforceable when it is not, because these will writing companies have not set aside sufficient, if any, reserves to insure against future increases. The fee is paid directly to the will writing company which uses the capital from marketing, commission or as profit. This is in our view a massive ticking time bomb in this sector. We estimate that as these practices are employed by some will writing companies, and have been for many years, there are currently tens of thousands of Wills where the testator is likely to have been miss-sold prepaid probate and where families will, sooner or later be clamouring for redress …..?”

The Solicitors Fee website ( makes the following points in its consumer advice regarding PPP:

“There appears to be few advantages in using a prepaid probate scheme, and you should resist being pressurised by a salesman….”

“Those who are best placed to get a good price for probate work will be your Executors. The best way to ensure that probate costs are reduced is to ensure you appoint Executors who will be concerned to keep costs to the minimum”.

This news item is  condensed from an article in  the Society of Will Writers Newsletter dated  January 2014.

For the record Simply Wills has never offered PPP, does not act as an Executor or Trustee, always recommends the appointment of family Executors and Trustees but where this is not possible can name trusted professionals who will renounce their appointment (at no charge) if the family does not want them to act.

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