Updated: Nov 10, 2022
Estate planning software is poised to take the industry from the stone age to the digital age. Learn how the right tools can take your business to the next level.
The first recorded will dates back to approximately 15,000 years ago. A Paleolithic man named Grok recorded an image that stated his wishes to divide his estate — including a pile of sabre-toothed tiger bones, a stone-tipped wooden spear, and his prized possession, his very favourite mammoth-skin loincloth — among his children, Zog, Zag, and Ock. Grok’s will was scratched onto the wall of a cave in southeastern France. It is the oldest surviving will in the world.
So, slight confession... we may have made Grok up. We’re not aware of any Neanderthal wills (and we can’t confirm that they wore mammoth-skin loincloths).
We made up Grok’s will to make a point: that the tools behind drafting estate plans haven’t changed much in many, many years. Today, estate planning professionals still rely on inefficient, manual, and often paper-based processes to plan and organize their clients’ estates. Without modern software and automated processes, it’s difficult to ensure that plans are complete and up to date.
In short, they may as well still be scratching images into stone.
While the rest of the world has been steadily digitalizing since the advent of the computer age in the mid-20th century, the estate planning industry has been slow to adapt.
The world has changed a lot since 1937, but the tools for estate planning haven’t changed at all.
In 1937, the brilliant British mathematician Alan Turing published “On Computable Numbers,” a paper that laid the groundwork for computer science as we know it today.
Just over 10 years later, researchers at the University of Manchester ran the first-ever computer program on a digital, electronic, stored-program computer.
Over the following decades computers slowly advanced from taking up entire rooms to smaller, more user-friendly designs, though users were limited as to what they could use them for.
With the introduction of the world wide web in 1991, digitalization accelerated like never before. The world of finance was quick to take notice, with Stanford Federal Credit Union launching its online banking system in 1994.
By 2006, 80% of US banks offered online banking. When flip phones gave way to smartphones in 2007, mobile banking apps quickly became the norm for financial institutions to offer.
Fast forward to 2020… the year we learned that it’s not only new inventions and innovations that speed up digitalization.
COVID-19 accelerated digital adoption and transformation, especially for businesses.
The pandemic revolutionized the way we work. It forced us to innovate and adapt to new ways of doing business. Our living rooms became our offices and we shifted from in-person meetings to Zoom. Businesses everywhere scrambled to adapt to the new normal, by embracing technology in ways never thought possible.
The estate planning industry was not immune to these changes. Prior to 2020, advisors and estate planners typically only met clients in person. Now, online meetings are the norm. There is also a growing interest in capturing and documenting digital assets like social media accounts, email accounts, and digital photos in estate plans.
One of the biggest signs that things are changing for the estate planning industry is the introduction of new legislation.
On December 21st, 2021, British Columbia passed Bill 21, legislation that allows for the electronic signing, video witnessing, and digital storage of wills. It’s the first legislation of its kind in Canada, and it signifies a major shift in the industry.
While this is a significant shift in the estate planning ecosystem, there is still a long way to go.
People are used to slick information-gathering technology in their daily lives. They expect it when they’re doing estate planning, too.
Today, 92% of baby boomers prefer online banking, and 71% report logging in to their account at least once a week. With digital literacy on the rise, people are more comfortable entering personal information online. And advances in cybersecurity have made digital platforms more secure than ever. The estate planning experience has to modernize to meet this new reality.
One of the challenges facing estate planning practitioners today is the inefficient, manual, paper-based information collection process with new clients. It’s too easy for advisors and their clients to leave out important information — like assets and even bank accounts — that fall through the cracks during discovery meetings.
Clients who seek out estate planning assistance today expect fast, centralized solutions. They expect professionals to use the same slick information-gathering technology they use in their daily lives when ordering groceries, doing their banking, and even creating their will.
Digital estate expert Sharon Hartung spoke about the importance of estate tech at the BC Estates Forum. “If you aren't using a creation technique online with your clients or you don't have a website, you're going to fall behind,” she warned.
To stay competitive in this new landscape, estate practitioners will need to keep up with the digital advancements or risk falling behind their competitors who are leaping ahead.
That’s where EstateBox comes in.
Estate planners need better tools to serve clients today.
EstateBox is modernizing estate planning by digitizing the collection and organization of assets and legal documents onto a single, secure platform.
Clients upload their key details, documents, and digital assets onto a safe and secure platform that centralizes all of their information. Access can then be shared among other advisors and trusted delegates. The user-friendly, guided workflow ensures that the process is intuitive for both tech-savvy and tech-hesitant clients.
This streamlines the intake process and ensures no piece of information has fallen through the cracks. It also makes it easy for your clients to keep their details up-to-date from the comfort of their own home.
We’re even building a notifications feature that will remind clients to update their profiles after a major life change. This feature not only ensures that their estate is always up to date but also creates a natural touchpoint between you and your client.
With all the important details centrally located on a secure platform, you have a full view of your clients’ estates. This allows you to do what you do best: provide strategic advice based on real-time data and insights.
Estate planning software is the future.
Our old (fictional) Neanderthal friend Grok was just learning how to use tools when he scratched his final wishes onto the wall of a cave in prehistoric France. Today, we have computers that allow us to simultaneously Zoom chat with friends halfway across the world, pay our electric bill, and look at pictures of the cave drawings at Lascaux.
The estate planning industry is poised for a digital transformation. The digitization of the world and the disruptions of COVID-19 have changed how we live, how we work, and what we expect from technology — and it’s time estate planning caught up.
Create your EstateBox account today and explore the platform free for 60 days, with no credit card required. If you’re interested in offering EstateBox to your clients, contact our CEO and founder Anjali Inman at email@example.com today.
While we’re passionate about all things estate planning, we’re not professionals. We recommend speaking with your lawyer or financial advisor when putting together an estate plan. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!