Last week I joined a zoom chat with colleagues from across the industry and we were trying to figure out why law firms do not offer their conveyancing customers advice on wills as standard practice.
After all, once you own a property, you have an asset to pass on and most people would want their property to go to their loved ones.
This issue was raised recently by someone really close to me who had no relationship with their natural mother since birth and has been estranged from their father for several years.
Happily married but with no children, he had just discovered that under the Laws of Intestacy, should he survive his husband, on his death, his parents would inherit his estate, including the house. He was truly horrified and could not understand why such an important fact was not drawn to his attention by his solicitor while they were in the process of purchasing their property. He has since written his will but believes it was a serious omission.
I was always told “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” but if you are ignorant of what you should ask for, is it wrong to expect an expert to signpost us?
Would you regard failure to recommend making a will as a failure of duty of care? That could be a harsh interpretation but even if there is no legal liability or redress, surely advising your client that they should make a will after completion of a house purchase is just really good customer service?
Why is this vital information barely mentioned? Perhaps the lawyer considers it to be “selling stuff” or “pushing” the customer to buy services they neither want or need? But we do need and want them and if we don’t buy from them, we will have to buy from somewhere else.
Law firms focused on business growth should look first at their own internal referrals to see if Conveyancing and Private Client Departments are actually working together. Giving customers what they want and need, is in fact great customer service and should be encouraged at all times.