With the explosion of technological advances we’ve seen in recent years, it seems as though every single aspect of life has been affected and enhanced by technology. Not just life, though, but death as well: the wills industry has already started modernising itself in various ways in order to keep up with the times.
From probate apps on Apple and Android devices to the recording of video Wills, the Wills and Probate industry is undergoing a technological revamp in all sectors. Here are some of the major shake-ups we can expect to see in the coming months and years, as well as some of the implications of said developments.
The Main Upcoming Advancements
The death care industry is a major business in the United Kingdom, as morbid as that may sound. In England and Wales alone, there are typically more than half a million deaths per annum. In order to stay ahead of the competition, some care providers are choosing to use technology as their unique selling point.
One of the most recent advancements is that of the video will. These can be viewed by individuals in their own time – by scanning a Quick Response (QR) code, the recipient may receive an email which will contain a link to a personal video recording, made by the deceased before they passed. This leads to a potentially more intimate experience, providing one last memory of your loved one.
Insight Mobile, an app company, recently released the first-ever probate app for mobile devices. This app has been designed for law firms to take advantage of, so they can put their own stamp on it and offer it to their clients.
The app focuses primarily on ease of use for the consumer – it offers a simple will writing function, which can then be fed into the probate process; an in-depth calculator to help work out inheritance taxes; an ordered guide to what you should do if someone close to you passes away (registering the death, wills and probate procedures, and so forth); and even a checklist to help you through each step of the probate process.
Unfortunately, it’s not 100% smooth sailing when it comes to modernising the wills and probate industry: the legislation has to be continually revised and updated to ensure that these advancements will stand up under the scrutiny of the law.
How Probate Legislation Is Changing with the Times
Recently, there was a case in the news regarding the suicide of a young man in Australia. This case was particularly interesting for the wills and probate sector, as it involved a makeshift electronic will. Before taking his own life, the man had sent parting messages to friends and members of his family, and he had also created a will by using the Notes application on his iPhone.
Usually, this would not be valid, as it was not signed by the testator in the presence of two separate witnesses. However, the courts do hold the power to overrule the formalities in exceptional cases, as long as certain requirements are met. In this case, the Supreme Court of Queensland decided to uphold the iPhone will. This has set a precedent, opening up the possibility of more electronic wills being admitted to probate.
Similarly, one of the companies that offers the recording of video wills also allows their customers to have their video submitted for a legal review. This means it will be judged and made a legitimate will, without further need for a written one. Whether or not this will be as completely set in stone as a written one remains to be seen, but it certainly seems as though it is a step in the right direction.