I recently read an article that speculated whether attorneys were becoming unneeded. The argument was being made that Artificial Intelligence would replace the need for attorneys; that algorithms would be developed to cover and replace the function that attorneys serve.
Already it can be seen in some areas of the law where the process is routine and predictable that universal forms are used to handle the situation. Indeed, some internet-based services exist because they believe that legal matters can be standardized, and that documents themselves are the basis upon which all legal matters can be handled. Sadly, there are too many attorneys who themselves provide their service by matching forms to problems.
I reject this whole line of reasoning because I believe the most essential component of estate planning is the analysis of the problem itself and customizing a solution that fully covers particular circumstances. It is a realization that all clients are unique and aren’t adequately addressed by a one-size-fits-all approach. In my over 45 years of estate planning, I have never seen two clients having exactly the same issues and underlying problems. In estate planning, it is not just knowing what the initial question to ask is, but what the follow up questions are which fully expose the depth of the issues.
Forms and algorithms can never replace the guidance and counseling that are an integral part of good legal advice. This is especially true in the area of estate planning which seeing the whole picture is imperative before the puzzle can be solved. Many standardized estate plans may not work in the end or may in fact be worthless because other underlying factors have not been properly considered.
Only a competent and experienced estate planning attorney can explore the goals and objectives together with the fears and concerns of people and then tailor and customize a plan that addresses all the unique issues of each client.
No, Estate Planning Attorneys will never become obsolete.
Attorney: Paul J. Stier
Paul has been practicing law for over 45 years, focusing mainly on Estate Planning, Business Planning, Trust Administration, Probate and Elder Law. After decades of helping thousands of clients with their estate and business planning needs, Paul has stepped back a bit from the active practice of law, but regularly lends his experience to the firm as attorney in collaborating on estate plans.