Consumers are increasingly shopping around for estate administration services, which has led to a fall in average administration costs despite a rise in the value of estates, a report has suggested.

The survey of 1,514 consumers, commissioned by insurer Sun Life Direct, also found that a lack of public trust in banks appears to have stymied the growth of financial services institutions in the sector, benefiting solicitors.

The research showed that the average cost of estate administration in 2010 fell by £10, to £2,199. This was despite a 7% rise in house prices, which would be expected to drive up the cost of administration. The report said this indicated that ‘consumers are economising and shopping around for a better deal’.

Some 49% of those questioned used a solicitor to administer the estate, up 6% from last year, while only 3% used banks, a 4% drop. The report said many probate solicitors had dropped their fees in response to the recession, and others were offering commoditised services.

However, the report noted that, of those consumers who administered an estate themselves, 98% said they did not regret doing so.

Sun Life suggested that considerable costs could be saved if more people were educated about estate administration. However, it noted that there has been a rise in the number of probate disputes.