Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential have captivated the world. It is a powerful tool, but should you entrust the creation of your last Will and testament to AI?
Traditionally, the process to create a Will is complex and time-consuming – with several rules that have to be followed and a lot of unfamiliar jargon. It’s no wonder people are starting to explore the application of AI to the process of creating a Will. However, there are risks associated.
The estate planning industry is no stranger to transformative technologies. 20 years ago, our company LegalWills was the first to provide dedicated online estate planning services in Canada – with a mandate to make Will writing more accessible by removing barriers to preparing a Will. However, the laws surrounding Wills and estate planning haven’t changed in nearly 200 years, so innovating in this space requires a balance between technology and human touch.
Intrigued by the application of AI in the estate planning space, at LegalWills we have done testing in many different areas. One area of potential is the use of AI and Chat GPT to deal with support tickets. Over the years we’ve answered close to 50,000 support tickets which range from questions about our specific process, to general questions about Wills, through to questions that could be seen as requesting legal advice.
In Canada, as a provider of online Will writing services, we are not permitted to give legal advice. We can provide general information that is readily available on the Internet, but we cannot be seen to come close to the “unauthorized practice of law” or be perceived to enter into a client attorney relationship.
The unanswered question was the accuracy of the answers it would give. We uploaded tens of thousands of previous tickets into our Chat-GPT knowledge base and then spent a month correcting wrong answers being delivered by our AI tool.
What does this mean for AI’s use within estate planning?
Overall, the AI chatbot gave answers that ranged from remarkably good, to completely false information. Ninety percent of the answers it gave were decent. However, when it comes to estate planning, the 10% of answers could be devastating. The wrong answers were often so far off the mark, it was nowhere close to reality – from making up special offers that we simply didn’t have and have never had, to pricing for our services that seemed to be plucked out of nowhere.
In one instance it told a user we had a 10-year hold and delete policy for all estate planning documents. However, we do not, nor have we ever referred to anything similar on the LegalWills website. In another instance, a user questioned the initial answer the chatbot gave and it got confused and corrected itself.
After a month, the chatbot is still making mistakes. We thought that it could never make the same mistake twice, but it also turns out this is not the case.
The above examples are simply AI using information from the web to advise people on Will writing services. Imagine using it to write a legally binding document that determines what happens after you’re gone.
AI is simply not ready yet, because it’s still making mistakes even when it is very highly trained. The mistakes can be innocuous but could potentially be a significant problem. If, for example, the chatbot thinks that an Executor cannot be a witness as it indicated in an answer to one of the support tickets we uploaded, is it possible for it to suggest that a witness can be a beneficiary? Neither is true and can have serious consequences when it comes to your estate and final wishes.
When it comes to legally binding documents, any person or software answering questions pertaining to the law simply MUST give the correct answer. So, the biggest issue is that there is no formal and automated process in place to check whether an answer provided by an AI tool is correct.
When will AI be ready?
As we see daily, this technology is very quickly evolving. It is not ready today, but perhaps later down the line it will be viable. The reality today is that if someone is looking for automation and efficiency within the Will writing process, the technology already exists at varying price points. Online Will writing services, such as what we’ve created at LegalWills, were designed to eliminate barriers and allow for a more streamlined process – but still allow for a bit of a human touch. AI operates at the level of a new employee who has received some training, but is still in their first week of the job, who is prepared to make a few guesses at the right answer even if it runs the risk of being wrong.
AI to write a Will? Thanks, but no thanks.
Tim Hewson is the Founder of LegalWills.ca.