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Would You Like a Robot to Draft Your Will?

on Monday, 29 April 2019.

Technology is changing the way in which we work and live and, increasingly, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) is impacting the way in which legal services are delivered.

In our recent survey on whether robots should draft Wills, seven out of ten of you said that you did not want robots to replace solicitors; the results of which were featured in The Daily Telegraph.

It was clear from the survey that many of you were understandably cautious about the use of AI, with more than 70% of you saying that you would not trust a Will drafted by a robot, and nearly 90% of you saying that you would not want a Will drafted using AI alone without any human input.

Most People Value Human Contact

One respondent commented that they wanted "less technology and more face to face dealings", whilst another said "human advice and input is essential".

However, many of you said that you would be happy for some AI to be used; as one of you put it: "Happy for AI involvement but professional, human contact and discussion needed for overview and estate planning."

Our survey found in general terms, that whilst individuals might not be ready to have a Will drafted using AI, you gave a cautious welcome to other types of technology. For example 52% of you said you would like to have a digital Will, which is accessible online. At present, a valid Will must be in writing (ie in hard copy) and strict formalities must be followed in relation to the Will's execution.

However it was clear that many of you felt that formalities were still important with fewer than 5% of you agreeing that it should be possible to make a Will using a text message. Not so in Australia, where the recent case (Re Nichol) allowed an unsent text message to be accepted as a valid Will.

Back to Our Survey

Many of you thought that creating a Will by email was a good idea, with 48% of you saying so. However, the possibility of fraud was a concern in relation to online Wills and nearly 60% of you said you would be more concerned about fraud with a digital Will. 

How May the Law Change in This Area?

Most of the law relating to Wills dates back to the Wills Act 1837 and the Law Commission has stated that the law needs to be modernized to take account of the changes in society, technology and medical understanding that have taken place since the Victorian era. The Law Commission is currently reviewing the law relating to Wills and looking at whether the formalities surrounding Wills should be relaxed. A public consultation was launched in July 2017 and ran until November 2017. The report has not yet been released but we will keep you updated on any key developments in this area.

For more information on our survey, please contact Angharad Lynn in our Private Client team on 020 7665 0904, or complete the form below.


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