Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat to Professional Estate Planners?

The tech industry is a buzz about one thing, artificial intelligence (AI)… again. There’s no doubt it’s come along leaps and bounds since its inception… and the smarter it gets, the quicker it will improve.

 

One industry said to be particularly vulnerable to the advancements of AI, was the legal industry. Yet the initial furore fell somewhat flat, but AI is back and better than ever – and whilst some legal firms have been seen to embrace it, others are still wary.

 

In this blog, we’ll explore:

 

  1. What AI is being used for – industry examples.
  2. What AI is being used for – in the legal industry.
  3. What benefits AI will bring you, the estate planning professional.
  4. Will AI take your job?
  5. How can you prepare for AI.

 

AI in the bigger picture – industry examples of how AI is being used.

 

Artificial intelligence is already being used across several industry sectors, such as:

 

  1. Customer service – if you’ve used a chatbot recently, chances are you’ve interacted with AI. McDonalds are also working on AI for their drive throughs.
  2. The healthcare industry – AI is being used to develop cancer screening tools and new drug treatments. It has been analysing vast datasets of chemical compounds and predicting their potential effectiveness in treating various diseases.
  3. Education: AI is being used to develop personalised learning experiences, grade papers, and provide feedback to students.
  4. And so many more…

 

AI is good at taking a vast amount of information, analysing it, and automating tasks. There’s no doubt that this capability will touch most industries, it’s influence will be broad, and its impact potential is massive, but how is it being used in the legal industry specifically?  

 

AI in the legal sector 

 

According to Law.com there are a few tools that have already caught the interest of law firms. You may have heard of them:  

 

 

 

  1. Harvey – is built on Chat GPT and helps lawyers with contract analysis, due-diligence, litigation, regulatory compliance and can generate insights, recommendations, and predictions.   
  2. Lexis+ AI – is a chatbot tool that provides conversational search results for the Lexis Nexis database and enables users to automate the drafting and summarising of legal documents. This tool hasn’t been launched yet, but it has the potential to be powerful.  
  3. CoCounsel – is an AI legal assistant which enables lawyers to delegate work to an AI assistant, just as they would to another legal professional. Apparently, it can handle complex work and already has some high-profile clients. 
  4. Chat GPT – is a language model which a lot of large law firms have expressed an interest in. You can ask it questions and it will give you detailed answers. However, its use on client work is still contested.  
  5. Microsoft 365 Copilot – is an AI chatbot assistant that integrates with Microsoft’s platforms (Word, Excel, Power Point etc). With a few UK law firms already expressing an interest. 

 

Whilst some law firms are embracing the use of AI, others are still a little unsure of their first move. There are data security and ethical considerations, but also, a lot of firms are still early on their digital transformation journey. Some are still choosing the right tools, integrating them, and building their Cloud architecture to host them on. 

 

It feels as though AI is a logical next step for those who have completed this ‘phase 1’ of digitisation, but those who are lagging behind, well they could soon be left in the dust. 

 

What benefits will AI bring you? 

 

For the short to medium term, if you choose to power ahead with AI, you could expect to benefit from it in the following ways: 

 

  1. It will help you gather and organise information – AI can read and understand complex documents, such as financial statements and Wills. It can also extract relevant information from these documents and organise it in a way that is easy to consume.
  2. You’ll be on top of your risks – AI can be used to identify potential risks and errors in a client’s estate plan. This can help you avoid mistakes.
  3. You will always be up to date on the law – AI can be used to stay up to date on changes in estate planning laws.
  4. You will have access to better data analysis – AI can consume a large amount of data and identify trends, which will help you to better shape the services you provide to your clients.

 

A lot of these benefits are to be thoroughly tested as the industry adopts the technology but all the above point to AI having more of an ‘assistant’ style role in the estate planning space. In the future it could potentially work like a paralegal assisting you in your work. Much like the technology available today, it will exist to make the day-to-day lives of people easier. Helping you scale to meet demand and outsource those pesky administrative burdens.

 

Will AI take your job? 

 

As mentioned above, AI seems to be on track to become a very handy assistant. But we wanted confirmation straight from the digital horse’s mouth… So, we asked Chat GPT, Microsoft’s AI tool and Bard, Google’s AI tool the following question ‘will you take over the job of estate planning lawyers anytime soon?’ 

 

Chat GPT’s response was:

 

While AI and technology have made significant advancements in various fields, including law, it’s unlikely that AI will completely take over the job of estate planning lawyers anytime soon. Estate planning involves complex legal and financial considerations that require not only a deep understanding of the law but also a personalised approach to meet the unique needs and goals of each client.

 

AI can certainly assist estate planning lawyers by automating certain tasks, such as document generation and legal research. It can also help with data analysis and organisation. However, the human element remains crucial in estate planning. Lawyers provide expertise in interpreting and applying the law, as well as in providing guidance and advice tailored to an individual’s specific circumstances and wishes.

 

Additionally, estate planning often involves emotional and sensitive discussions with clients and their families, which require empathy and understanding that AI cannot provide. While technology can be a valuable tool in the legal profession, it is more likely to augment the work of estate planning lawyers rather than replace them entirely.

 

Bard, Google’s AI tool, said:

 

I will not take over the job of estate planning lawyers anytime soon. Estate planning is a complex and nuanced field that requires a deep understanding of the law, as well as the ability to provide personalised advice and guidance to clients. While AI tools can be used to automate some aspects of the estate planning process, they cannot replace the expertise and experience of a human lawyer. 

 

How can you prepare for AI? 

 

So, whilst AI won’t be taking away any jobs in this area any time soon, it’s usage in the space will likely increase and you may want to keep abreast of the developments. 

 

Here’s some recommendations on preparing for AI: 

 

  1. Stay informed on AI technology: Learn about the latest developments in AI and legal technology. Subscribe to events, webinars, tech blogs and sign up to courses. Look for tools that are proving popular in your space, explore them. 
  2. Embrace legal technology: Familiarise yourself with tools that are already used within the industry, such as document automation, legal research software and data analytics platforms. Knowledge is power, and chances are you’ll end up using these tools in the future as the industry inevitably digitises. 
  3. Adapt to regulatory changes: Stay informed about any regulatory changes related to the use of AI and technology in the legal profession. 
  4. Identify what can be automated: Identify routine and repetitive tasks in your practice, such as document drafting, and explore solutions that can automate these processes. This can free up more of your time for higher-value activities, such as client consultation and strategic planning. 

 

It’s worth keeping abreast of the legal industry’s investment in AI, there are some exciting tools on the horizon that could make your working life a lot easier. It’s also worth taking stock of the technology infrastructure and tools you are currently using, are you working as efficiently as you can?

 

Arken Legal provides software that streamlines multiple areas of the estate planning process, and we can help you on your digital transformation journey. From finding new clients and data capture, to drafting documents – Arken has the technology to help you transform your business.  

 

Visit our website to learn more.