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Automated Estate Planning: The Advantages of Using Automation Software for Drafting Wills and Enduring Power of Attorney Documents

Posted by Gene Turner on 24-Feb-2024 16:35:32

Senior couple meeting financial adviser for investment

Estate planning, particularly the creation of wills and enduring powers of attorney (EPAs), is an underappreciated field requiring a lot of expertise.

Lawyers and legal executives often invest extensive hours researching, verifying, and customising clauses for wills, all while managing the heavy administrative load of gathering and inputting data into multiple documents for various individuals.

It doesn't have to be this hard, though.

Embracing technological advancements has transformed the process of will and EPA creation for modern firms wanting to adopt the most efficient processes and provide the best outcomes for their clients.

In this post, we delve into why leading industry players are now turning to software solutions for the streamlined creation of even the most intricate documents, specifically focusing on wills and EPA documents.

This article focuses on specific document automation software, not the basic functionality you get in practice management systems, which is often marketed as if it has the same capabilities.


Human fallibility is an inherent risk of the legal drafting process. Everyone has good days and bad days, making mistakes inevitable. Automation software serves as a valuable ally by flagging areas that require attention, maintaining and instantly inserting consistent language, and reducing risks of human error.

Moreover, the underlying precedent documents are more easily maintained and updated. The latest clauses are what will assemble each time. This eliminates the need for research and checking to stay abreast of changes, providing access to an updated precedent bank with best practice wording.

With document automation, there is no more "save as" and risk of leaving someone else's details in a document.

Time Efficiency

Manually crafting will and EPA documents through traditional methods involves time-consuming revisions, edits and re-entry of the same information into multiple documents.

Document automation software significantly accelerates this process, enabling estate planning professionals to generate comprehensive sets of documents in a fraction of the time.

This efficiency enhances business operations and expedites the overall estate planning timeline for clients who increasingly expect faster turnaround times.

These time savings will be particularly noticeable where:

  • The client changes their mind. Instead of needing to redraft the documents, you can select different options in the interview questionnaire and re-generate the documents within only a few minutes.
  • You need to generate an EPA for Personal Care and Welfare and an EPA for Property in addition to a will, and you can avoid re-entry of existing details entered for the will.
  • You are acting for a couple and need to create a mirror set of documents, which you can do with automation software in minutes.
  • You pair your document automation solution with an online intake form (discussed further below) to capture much of the information you need from the client online rather than through expensive in-person meetings where expensive lawyers and legal executives write up notes.

Let's not forget the time savings for the client, too – which some would say should be the most important measure of time!

Ease of use

While some document automation solutions you may have tried are clunky, complex to use, and may not save much time, the latest solutions offer a great user experience.

Think about the solution you use to create EPAs. How easy do you find it to use, and how easy do your clients find the documents to read and understand?

EPA Quote

Avoid precedent maintenance

When did you review and update your will and EPA precedents last? Have you updated them for the Trusts Act 2019? Do you even have precedents?

We all know how hard it is to find time to spend drafting and maintaining precedents. Subscribing to an automated solution removes this burden, as you can rely on a well-designed and maintained solution.

LawHawk's solution, for example, has recently been updated, including a review by one of New Zealand's leading estate planning lawyers. It's also used by a number of other law firms, which means that if there ever is an issue, it will likely be picked up by others and remedied before you even know about it.

And if other firms have helpful suggested improvements, you can benefit from those too at no extra charge.


Risk Mitigation

Leading automation software incorporates built-in checks and balances to identify potential errors or inconsistencies in documents.

Detecting and rectifying issues (for example, inconsistent answers or numbers that don't balance) during the drafting phase significantly contributes to risk mitigation, preventing legal complications that may arise from oversights or mistakes.

How long does it take you to prepare wills and EPAs for your clients? Every week that passes increases the risk that the client might die before their documents are put in place.

If you currently take months to finalise documents and could reduce that to weeks or days, this reduces risk substantially.


Legal automation software provides you with the tools necessary for drafting wills and EPA documents of any complexity and with great sophistication.

Take, for example, a gift to an individual (e.g. the will maker's spouse) and a class (e.g. the will maker's three children) that is expressed to be shared equally. It sounds simple, but does the willmaker intend 50% to go to the spouse and 50% to the children (to be shared between them), or 25% to the spouse and 25% to each of the children (per capita sharing)? Both are forms of equal sharing, but the latest automation solutions can automatically detect when such a situation is relevant and prompt the drafter to choose the correct outcome explicitly.

Similarly, there can be so many particular gifts that may be relevant and so many ways that the remaining estate may then be shared that it is impractical to keep all optional text in a single unautomated template, as the drafter would be spending vast amounts of time deleting large numbers of options and sub-options to choose the relevant one. Copying and pasting from some other document is often the method used to get around this.

Automation software automatically removes the redundant clauses, leaving only the relevant one. 

You can manage more clients and create greater value with them

Many law firms we talk to that are not using document automation don't feel they can handle more clients than they already have and don't have time to investigate ways to increase the value of their relationships.

With a combined will and EPA solution, it is easy to suggest doing EPAs at the same time as wills and completing them in only a few more minutes, adding substantial additional profit to the matter.

It also creates more time to discuss the client's situation more broadly and identify other areas you could help them with.

You can manage more clients than currently without expanding the team.

You can obtain more clients

Not only can you manage the clients you already have, but automation can help you obtain more of them.

A more holistic look at your overall business process could result in sophisticated online intake forms, such as the one below, embedded in your website so that clients can begin working with you immediately from the comfort of their homes while doing their online research. Feel free to complete the form to see how it works. 

Once they have taken these important initial steps and provided you with their contact details, you can convert them into paying clients.

Do you currently know how many clients are doing research for wills and EPAs on your website and leave without providing any contact details?

A differentiated service

More than just using technology is needed to stand apart.

With the increasing adoption of document automation solutions by legal firms, there may be a limited competitive advantage in your firm being able to draft the documents faster or more consistently than other firms using the same solution.

However, you'll undoubtedly differentiate yourself from other firms taking weeks, or even months, to draft documents manually when you can turn them around within hours.

More importantly, you'll have valuable time and space to spend with the client, build a relationship, and emphasise the skills and personal traits that truly differentiate you and add value to the client.

While there is a lot of emphasis on automation to generate "time well saved", it is often overlooked how it can also create more "time well spent" – time with the client, creating better overall outcomes for them.

10 It helps with training

While some of the less fully featured document automation solutions offer little more than form fields to be filled in, with little by way of training, the more complete solutions offer much more.

LawHawk's will and EPA solution is built using HotDocs, one of the world's most advanced document automation platforms, and we aim to get the most from it.

HotDocs allows for substantial question-by-question guidance to be added to the interview questionnaire, effectively guiding the user through the options and helping them to understand which options to choose and why. They see what they need to see when they need to see it.

A dynamic interview, which shows and hides content based on earlier answers, enables users to see the inter-relationships of concepts and how their choices affect options.

Video guidance can now be built into such solutions so that drafters can effectively see what to do and how to do it, with 24/7 availability. Our video in our newest solution is 2 hours and 15 minutes long in total but is chaptered up into bite-sized topics.

All this learning can occur on the job without taking the valuable time of partners and senior associates.

11  Wills and EPAs can become a genuine profit driver again

Many law firms no longer find wills and EPAs profitable and attractive. When the client has more complex requirements or changes their mind on key issues, costs can quickly blow up, leading to disputes over fees and/or large write-offs.

An efficient and high-quality automation solution that enables the most complex documents to be drafted in similar timeframes to a simple one allows for the transition from hourly billing to fixed fees and value billing.

When working on this basis, drafting and finalising documents for the client quickly does not make the work less profitable. If anything, such a fast and high-quality turnaround increases value for the client and justifies premium fees.

12  Summary

As can be seen above, leveraging automation software not only reduces the administrative burden for law firms but also aligns with the evolving expectations of clients.

From precision and time efficiency to risk mitigation and generating more work, automation software is invaluable in meeting and exceeding client expectations for prompt and accurate estate planning services.

If you haven't looked at what's possible in document automation for a while, it's time for a fresh look. Even if you feel the timing isn't quite right, knowing what is possible and seeing what other firms are doing is never a bad use of time. If you'd like to do a little more research first, you can see more information on our website or get in touch for a chat.

Topics: Future of Law, Document Automation, Legal Technology, Wills, Estates, Law Firm Management, Legal Automation, Law Firm Marketing, Law Firm Strategy, Law Firm Profitability, Law Firm Pricing

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