Many probate solicitors unaware of equity release

Many probate solicitors unaware of equity release

Law firms general lack of awareness of equity release is limiting financial options for widows following the death of a spouse, according to research from Key Partnerships.

The finding was made by the equity release referral service after it quizzed 103 solicitors in August.

Its study found that while the majority of law firms (57 per cent) regularly help widows facing financial problems with complications in probate, just under half (44 per cent) were not aware of equity release as an alternative to widows downsizing from their current home. 

Currently around 33 per cent of solicitors will suggest equity release and 28 per cent reference it as an alternative to downsizing.

The survey highlighted that solicitors are also concerned that they do not have enough training – 67 percent said they would benefit from information on using equity release to help with post death financial challenges.

The survey also showed that one of the main causes (cited by 60 per cent of solicitors) of money problems was financial mismanagement by their late partner.

Will Hale, director at Key Partnerships, said: “Equity release enables widows to remain in the home while allowing property wealth to be used for short-term and long-term planning and is a growing alternative for easing cash flow problems.”

Stephen Chilcott, chartered financial planner at Addidi Wealth, said informing widows of the option of equity release should be a necessity.

"As one would include advice on what they are going to do with their pension, equity release should be mentioned too," he said. 

"For some people equity release might be the ideal solution, that would be a small minority at the moment, but it is something that will grow.

"As we get an ageing population with less and less incomes but with major assets namely their property, equity release will come into the fore."

Key Partnerships offers referral fees of on average £1,450 on the completion of equity release loans for introducers.