Beware of digital estate planning: Equity Trustees

Couple in living-room with laptop computer, top-view

While digital technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in the financial services industry, when it comes to estate planning, digital tools are cause for concern, according to Equity Trustees. 

Equity Trustees national manage of estate planning Anna Hacker said people should be cautious when using digital tools to draft a will.

“Online wills are bad enough, and people should always be wary of any service that implies drafting a will is such a simple process that it can be done in a few minutes on the internet,” she said.

“But suggesting that an appropriate will can be tapped out on your phone with a downloaded app is just too simplistic.”

While apps that can help create wills may “stress that the structure is legal and binding”, the most important aspect of making a will is not the document itself but the advice that goes with it, Ms Hacker said.

“With digital wills and apps the advice step is missed – an app can’t detect subtleties or be proactive in how you deal with difficulties that might need to be dealt with in a will,” she said.

Ms Hacker also urged those considering creating a digital video recording of a will or supplementary information to think twice.

“If you have a written will and supplement that with a video will or explanatory information in a video, there can be confusion as to which is the legally binding version,” she said.

“If the information in both isn’t identical, it may cause the written will to be challenged – and even revoked.

“This trend devalues the estate planning process, and can create an ambiguous result that will cause your beneficiaries distress as they try to work through the aftermath of your death,” Ms Hacker said.

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