The Problem With Artificial Intelligence

Since much of estate planning seems to center on drafting and signing different documents—wills, trusts, and durable powers of attorney—some observers have gone so far as to suggest that AI could soon replace lawyers.

However, as impressive as products like ChatGPT may be, they are incapable of anything close to insight. In many cases, the risks of relying on AI for an estate plan far outweigh the potential savingfs. These risks include the following:

1. Unreliable Information

Artificial intelligence is a term for a type of program or algorithm that uses training data to recognize patterns from different inputs. In general, the more data an AI training model receives, the more effectively it can return relevant results. ChatGPT, for instance, was originally trained on 570 gigabytes of internet-sourced data, which was taken from websites including Wikipedia, Twitter, and Reddit.

The latest versions of ChatGPT, as well as its competitors, rely on truly unfathomable masses of information. While this makes it relatively easy for AI programs to identify patterns and learn from reported mistakes, it also makes it much more difficult for ordinary users to realize when they may have been supplied inaccurate answers.

Artificial intelligence has, in fact, consistently misinterpreted different elements of the law. These mistakes, even when minor, have had real-world consequences, with litigants inadvertently filing legal briefs riddled with made-up laws and nonexistent court cases.

2. Untested Security

Estate planning documents often contain sensitive personal information, ranging from private

inheritance decisions to account passwords and asset inventories. Although many artificial intelligence-based estate planning platforms claim to be secure, any website viewed as a potential data repository could be attacked by overseas hackers. Once obtained, this information could be used to wreak havoc in a testator’s life or compromise their entire estate through identity theft.

3. An Inability to Innovate

Instead of considering precedent or keeping a close eye on California’s court and legislature, artificial intelligence technologies simply repeat and rephrase training data. Even the best commercial AI aides cannot:

Artificial intelligence cannot account for the peculiarities of your estate or strive to understand the complex relationships between different heirs and beneficiaries. It can only regurgitate what others have already written, leaving you to determine whether its answers are even accurate. 

4. A Lack of Compassion

Estate planning is the process of preparing for uncertainty—for illness, for incapacity, and for death. So, while artificial intelligence could provide instructions on how to disinherit an heir or strike a divorced spouse’s name from a testament, it cannot help you navigate the profound social and emotional consequences of cementing a legacy.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.