Question: I need to put together a basic, straightforward Will. Is there any reason I couldn’t use ChatGPT and artificial intelligence (AI) instead of hiring an attorney?
Loraine’s Answer: Many people assume that they can create a Will using standardized language from a template, especially if they don’t own many assets or their estate is uncomplicated. However, using do-it-yourself (DIY) estate planning tools, including AI, is almost always a bad idea.
Here are just a few reasons why an AI-generated Will could have problems:
- Enforceability. Any mistake or overlooked detail could cause a court to declare a Will invalid, in whole or in part. In addition, each state has specific rules regarding what is required in order for a Will to be validly executed or easily admitted to probate- these rules are state-specific and there are often significant differences. If a Will is drafted to comply with the wrong set of state rules, it may not be valid, or it may be valid but not work well. Finally, Wills have to be executed under very specific circumstances. The exact circumstances required for execution of a valid Will also differ from state to state. Having an experienced estate planning attorney assist you with execution is generally the best way to ensure that a Will is executed correctly.
- A Will created with DIY tools is more likely to have ambiguous or unclear language, which may lead to challenges or disputes among heirs and beneficiaries. Challenges and disputes can lead to expensive, drawn-out court proceedings.
- A person may be better served by using other estate planning tools, such as Trusts, in addition to having a Will. Only a knowledgeable attorney understands the full landscape of options and can give personalized counsel.
- Financial and tax implications. A DIY tool is not as likely to have complex decision-making skills when it comes to minimizing estate and income taxes or in handling and dealing with assets that are controlled by beneficiary designations.
Key Estate Planning Takeaway: Like other DIY estate planning tools, AI may be able to generate a rudimentary Will. However, having a Will that doesn’t hold up legally may be worse than not having a Will at all. There is no substitute for the knowledge, insight, and professional guidance of an experienced estate attorney.
This “Q&A with Loraine” blog series features answers from Morgan + DiSalvo Partner Loraine DiSalvo to common questions. A key takeaway from each exchange highlights an important facet of estate planning.