Digital technology has radically changed our lives. We can translate languages on the spot, listen to any song we want at any time, pay bills and do our banking, group chat with friends and even meet a new partner without ever leaving home.
It’s not surprising that this digital revolution has touched the delicate and complex process of estate planning.
There are now service offerings online promising ‘instant Wills’ by recording a video via webcam or filling out forms on an app. But there is a difference between your intentions and what makes a Will legally valid.
A Will is only as good as the time, thought and expertise that has gone into crafting it to make sure it does what you intend it to do – legally.
A good Will is meticulously planned, comprehensive, and deliberately and carefully worded – ideally with advice and assistance from a professional. It protects against any risk of ambiguity or misinterpretation, wilful or accidental.
Apps do not take any of this into account, and in fact, if you read the fine print you will see that the developers behind them emphasize they take no responsibility for any legal implications, or their appropriateness for a user’s particular circumstances.
Video recordings are also fraught with danger, especially where the video is intended to supplement or elaborate on a written Will. Confusion rather than clarification can result, and worse still, if the information in both isn’t identical, the Will can be left open to challenges or even be revoked entirely.
Far from providing guidance, a Will that hasn’t been properly considered and executed can become a source of conflict within families or simply add distress at an already difficult time.
There is a time and place for digital technology – planning your lifetime’s legacy is not one of them. Not yet anyway.