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  • Writer's pictureBrian A. Raphan, Esq.

"Actually, Artificial Intelligence can be quite intelligent. Who needs Lawyers?"

These days you can't turn on the news, surf your computer, or turn on the radio without hearing about Artificial Intelligence or the acronym "AI." 

So, when I heard this month is National Make-A-Will month (thanks to marketers), I thought I would ask "ChatGPT," one of the leading AI-driven apps, what it thought about people drafting their own Last Will & Testament.

My Summary: The good news is technology is great. The bad news is that, in my view, it will never replace the personal and on hands expertise of a true seasoned "human" lawyer, who can listen, empathize, opine on family issues, understand dynamics, incorporate experience, and ensure that a critical or noncritical error does not slip into your planning.

After all, errors and poor planning cause unnecessary anguish, stress, and more fees for lawyers! I can't imagine a computer Will can cut it:  For example, when did you last talk to your computer about "the rule of lapse," "the rule of perpetuities," "dependent relevant revocation," or "incorporation by reference"? Indeed, these are rules that many of you will know little about, and I wonder if AI will consider them as part of your estate plan, especially if you do not even know to ask.

In my days, they called it "penny wise, dollar foolish." AI calls it "progress" (with no sense of accountability).

I got the response below when I asked AI if I needed a lawyer to draft my Will.


From ChatGPT: While it's technically possible to draft your own last will and testament, it's generally not recommended unless you have a very simple estate and you're familiar with the legal requirements of your jurisdiction. There are several reasons why seeking professional help from a lawyer is a better idea:

1. Legal Expertise: Lawyers are trained in estate planning and understand the legal intricacies involved in drafting a will. They can ensure that your will is compliant with the laws of your jurisdiction and minimize the chances of errors or omissions.   


2. Complexity: If your estate is even moderately complex—due to multiple beneficiaries, various types of assets, or potential tax implications—consulting a lawyer is essential to navigate these complexities effectively.

3. Avoiding Disputes: A professionally drafted will reduces the chances of ambiguity and misunderstandings that could lead to family disputes after your passing. A lawyer can provide clarity and minimize the risk of legal challenges.

4. Legal Formalities: Wills have specific legal formalities that must be followed for them to be considered valid. These formalities can vary by jurisdiction. A lawyer can ensure that your will meets all the necessary requirements.

5. Updating: Life changes, and so do your circumstances and wishes. Lawyers can help you review and update your will as needed to keep it current and reflective of your situation.

6. Peace of Mind: Engaging a lawyer to draft your will gives you confidence that your wishes will be carried out as intended, providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

7. Unintended consequences: A poorly written will can inadvertently create confusion or loopholes, potentially causing disputes among your loved ones. Lawyers provide the expertise to anticipate possible scenarios and draft your will in a way that minimizes these risks.

8. DIY doesn't mean free: While drafting your own will might save you some immediate costs, the potential expenses of correcting mistakes or handling legal disputes later on could far outweigh those initial savings. Investing in a lawyer now could potentially save your estate and your loved ones significant amounts in the long run.

9. Expertise and objectivity: Lawyers are trained to handle sensitive and complex matters with professionalism and objectivity. They can offer practical advice and insights that might not occur to someone outside the legal field.

In summary, while drafting your own will might seem like a cost-effective approach, the potential risks, complications, and unintended consequences make consulting a lawyer a wise choice. Your Will is a crucial document that will impact your loved ones' lives, so investing in professional guidance ensures that your final wishes are properly documented and legally enforceable.


*This next part is from me again, Brian A. Raphan, Esq., human lawyer: I do believe ChatGPT summed it up quite well.

I'll add that in my approximate 35 years of practicing law, I have handled many issues arising from others' faulty Wills (some even drafted by lawyers). From complex and expensive Will Contests with years of family fighting; to simple mistakes like using a Will beneficiary as a witness to the Will, or making a specific bequest of some important personal property and listing it AFTER the residuary clause rather than before.

Or, did you remove the staples from an original Will to scan or make copies… well, you now have some explaining to do to the Court!

I look forward to your questions and seeing you in the office soon.Old School.




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