Will Software: Making the Complex Simple

March 29, 2021

Genius is making complex ideas simple, not making simple ideas complex.” – Albert Einstein 

Making a Will is not always straightforward – it is difficult to future-proof such an enduring document against all the uncertainties of life. As a technology company that specialises in the private client sector, Arken.legal has dedicated its 30-year history to understanding and addressing key industry pain points and developing solutions that not only solve them but ensure they can be delivered as efficiently and consistently as possible, without sacrificing an inch of quality.


Our legal and technology experts make it their mission to cater for complexity quickly – valuing your time as much as you do. Time is money – you don’t want to be spending it on repetitive tasks such as re-keying data or cutting and pasting within Word templates (and don’t get us started on the risk management side of things!). At the heart of the Arken product suite is estate planning document automation software – Arken Professional. This solution enables drafters to create complex Wills four times faster through its intuitive questionnaire, which auto-populates the document at the side of the screen as the drafter works through each section, with mandatory fields clearly marked.


“What we’ve found is the major issue for practitioners who are yet to make the leap into digital is that they simply don’t trust technology – and especially automation technology – when it comes to complex instructions,” explains Arken.legal’s Head of Product, Samantha Warner. “But this is such unfounded reticence. Arken Professional can allow for the most complex of situations, including through highly detailed multi-part Wills. These provide for a certain set of Will clauses to apply in one situation, and another set of clauses if that situation has not come to pass. It will even allow a 3rd contingent scenario to be catered for. The distribution provisions are broken into parts, with the intention that according to the prevailing position at the Testator’s death only one set of provisions will apply. This means that Wills will provide for different scenarios that could be in place when the testator passes away. Substitution clauses can sometimes be used to a similar effect, but these can become messy, overly complicated and repetitive. Multi-part Wills achieve clarity of drafting and allow for ease of administration as it will be clear exactly which provisions are to apply in a particular outcome.”


There are a number of situations where multi-part Wills can be particularly useful:

  • Where a Testator has a disabled child, Part One of the Will could make a bequest for the child’s welfare if living at the Testator’s death, with another differing set of provisions allocating the bequest elsewhere if that child is not then living.
  • In contemplation of marriage: marriage will always revoke a Will unless there is a statement that the Will is made in contemplation of marriage. However, it is possible to ensure the validity of a Will and build in flexibility with a multi-part Will. Part One could specify that it is made in contemplation of marriage and give provisions which are to apply if the marriage goes ahead. Part Two could specify entirely different terms should the marriage not take place.
  • Where it is desired that s.144 Inheritance Tax Act 1984 be relied upon to allow Trustees to rearrange a discretionary trust within two years of death to enable tax efficiencies. Practitioners have expressed anxiety that this section could be repealed as it can greatly reduce tax revenues, so in respect of some estates it could be prudent to allow for one set of provisions to apply in the event that the effect of s.144 is available, and another set of provisions to apply in the event that the section has been withdrawn.



The stated circumstances at death can be far-ranging and can, for example, extend to whether or not, the Testator is divorced, widowed, responsible for a parent, or living abroad. The practitioner must be careful to ensure that the conditional aspect of each part of the multi-part Will is clear and non-conflicting, to the extent that only one part can possibly be effective at any point. It is usual for multi-part Wills to be structured into 2 parts but can be presented in more – Arken Professional allows its users the ability to set up to 3 parts.

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