Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Estate Planning & Drafting Software

On November 28, 2007, "Estate Planning & Drafting Software for the Professional" was the topic of a one-hour presentation at the 14th Annual "Estate Law Institute" conducted by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in Philadelphia.

The session occurred at the end of the first day of the very successful & well-attended Institute, which I had anticipated previously in a posting, "
PBI's "Estate Law Institute" Nov 28th-29th" (10/24/07).

The panelists included
Daniel B. Evans, Esq., Nicole S. Splitter, and me (Neil E. Hendershot, Esq.).

As the moderator, I began the session by referring to materials in the Institute's three-volume set.

Donald H. Kelley, Esq., of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, had given me permission for PBI to reprint his 24-page outline, with live Internet links, entitled "Electronic Practice Leverage -- A Trusts and Estates Desktop". This is an expanded & updated treatment of technology resources & tips written by Don over the years. He mentioned the origin of the material.

The archived issues of the Trusts & Estates Technology Newsletter written by the author for Trusts & Estates magazine are available [here] (delivered free monthly to subscribers of Trusts & Estates magazine). For an electronic copy of this outline, with live links, in Word or PDF, please email the author at dhkelley@qwestoffice.net.
Don had posted many of the articles in the public area of the website of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel in a section entitled "Technology Review". These articles include, among others:
Dan Evans then explained & demonstrated the software Estate Planning QuickView 2007, which he writes in conjunction with Stephen Leimberg, and which is marketed by Leimberg & LeClaire, Inc. of Havertown, PA.
Estate Planning QuickView is our state law sensitive flowchart and graph based Windows software to provide and help communicate instantaneous answers to two of the most important questions you - and your clients - need to answer:
  • What dispositive strategy will reduce taxes at death to the lowest possible amount?
  • What dispositive strategy at death will provide the highest amount of financial security (capital) for heirs? * * *
Dan demonstrated its interface, data entry, scenario capabilities, and output.

Dan then demonstrated a companion software program offered by the same vendor, used both in estate planning & fiduciary administrations: NumberCruncher 2007.
NumberCruncher is Steve Leimberg's authoritative estate planning decision-maker and "electronic survival tool". It is the essential "instant answers" solution for estate, business, and financial planners.

This intuitively easy-to-use tool requires practically no learning curve. New users will be astounded by how quickly
NumberCruncher can be mastered, how many creative tasks it performs, and how amazingly fast you have your answers. * * *
I then introduced the professional-level estate planning software written by Donald H. Kelley & Konrad Schmidt, III, and published by Thompson-West: Intuitive Estate Planner.
This software application allows you to easily perform estate planning calculations and prepare presentations for clients. It analyzes estate plan development options and saves time in collecting and organizing client information.

The Intuitive Estate Planner allows you to handle estate calculations in three easy steps: enter client data; make planning choices; and view calculations and generate planning reports and client handouts.
  • Graphically display the effect of the federal and state estate taxes on inheritance
  • Calculate the effect of possible changes in the federal estate tax
  • Plan and demonstrate solutions to tax attrition of the client's estate
  • Show flow of property through the estates, including numerical results of the plan
  • Compose a slide show of planning and property concepts for a client or group
  • View and/or print the results of all calculations in flowchart, comparative bar graph, or table format * * *
I noted the ease-of-use, educational aspects, Internet linkages, and breath & depth of this estate planning tool in my enthusiastic, though brief, review of its capabilities.

Other estate & financial planning tools for the computer were described in a Technology Review, published by Jason E. Havens, in the American Bar Association's Probate & Trust Journal (Mar/Apr, 2006).

As a transition into the topic of estate drafting software, I mentioned consumer-oriented will & trust preparation software, and then introduced a professional-level product.

Nicole S. Splitter, a Senior Account Executive with Interactive Systems, Inc., demonstrated one sophisticated assembly system for estate planning, trust, & related personal planning documents, written by prolific authors & highly-respected practitioners Jonathan J. Blattmachr, Esq. and Michael L. Graham:
Wealth Transfer Planning.
This "lifetime estate planning and drafting system" is available for different user levels:

* Professional Version — for the Trusts & Estates specialist with higher net worth clients requiring tax planning; includes customization tools, unlimited support and other specialized training & services

* Standard Version — for the T&E lawyer with taxable and non-taxable clients; includes customization tools

* Essentials Version — for the T&E or general practice lawyer with clients of modest wealth and non-taxable estates; no customization tools * * *
Nicole demonstrated the modules, data input, customization, references, support, assembly, and output of this impressive, powerful product.

All these tools contribute greatly to a practitioner's maintenance of excellence in rendering estate planning services to clients.

Update: 12/14/07:

On November 29, 2007, "Fiduciary Administration Software for the Professional" was the topic of a one-hour presentation during the second day of the 14th Annual "Estate Law Institute" conducted by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in Philadelphia.

PA EE&F Law Blog posting "
Fiduciary Administration Software" (12/14/07).

Update: 06/11/08:

Software that drafts estate & personal planning documents
was a subject of discussion on the American Bar Association's Estate Planner's Listserv this day.

One contributor recommended an article comparing such products for the professional, as published in the July/August, 2004 issue of the ABA's "Probate & Property" periodical, by Joseph G. Hodges, Jr., Esq., and Jason E. Havens, Esq., entitled "Deftly Drafting Estate Planning Documents" (7 pages, PDF).

Then Joe Hodges, as Chief Moderator of the ABA-PTL Listserv, added a comment:
Chiming in a little late on this one, in addition to the article Jason and I wrote, Roger Shumaker and I included an updated matrix chart of available T&E software in our materials for our Technology Update that was presented at Heckerling 2008.

That matrix is now posted on the RPTE Section Web site as part of the Heckerling Reports for 2008 as
Appendix C in Report 21 (Final Report) near the top.
That web page contains a link to download 42nd Heckerling Estate Planning Institute 2008 - Appendix C from Special Sessions on Technology (43KB) for the comparison table entitled "Summary of Trusts and Estates Law Practice Software" (6 pages, PDF), prepared 11-14-07 for 2008 Heckerling Estate Planning Institute - Copyright 2008 by Joseph G. Hodges Jr., Roger L. Shumaker, and D.W. Craig Dreyer.