Monday, November 24, 2008

"The Electronic Practice" Book for T&E Pros

On November 24, 2008, a message on the ACTEC listserv noted release of a new book by Donald H. Kelley entitled The Electronic Practice (Nov., 2008), published by Penton Media (Trusts & Estates/Wealth Management Press).

Don Kelley previously authored at least two books still in print:

In his new book's Introduction, Don recognizes the book's audience and summarizes the topics he targeted: "The focus of this work is on information of assistance to Trust and Estates professionals" who include attorneys, and also "accountants, financial planners and charitable organization professionals."

Generally, the book addresses these subjects:
  • Discussions, in the Trusts and Estates setting, of basic computer usage
  • Identification of computational or drafting software and web-based facilities
  • Search tools to find information and resources on the Internet
  • Surveys of websites offering value to Trust & Estate practitioners
  • Information and checklists to evaluate software and hardware capabilities
The promotional information about the book notes a special feature of the publication package -- an accompanying CD-ROM (accessed through the included new Adobe Air software) that creates a "Trusts & Estates Desktop" on your computer. Clicking on the icon then opens an "online text equivalent of The Electronic Practice hard copy treatise, with hyperlinks among chapters and subheadings and with live links to Internet websites."

Don tells us that this book will not be static in its electronic counterpart:
It is intended that periodic updates to these materials will be made available for download from the Trusts and Estates website.

You will be given an ID and Password to access the download area of the Trusts and Estates website and you will be notified by email when updates are available. * * *
Don sent me a copy of the book (with CD-ROM) about two weeks ago; and I reviewed its chapters, both in print and on my computer (spontaneously accessing websites through those live Internet links):
Part 1: Electronic Resources – Background

Chapter 1: Basics of Computer Operation for T & E Practitioners
Chapter 2: Tricks and Traps - Computer Operation for Non-Techies
Chapter 3: Technical Resources On Law Office Technology
Chapter 4: Web-Based Services
Chapter 5: The Limits of Technology -- The ”Black Box” Effect
Chapter 6: The Mac Alternative
Chapter 7: The Internet as Part of Your Desktop

Part 2: Electronic Facilities for the Trusts and Estates Practice

Chapter 8: Software Selection and Lists and Reviews of Trusts & Estates Software
Chapter 9: Client Data Gathering and Organization and Case Management Systems
Chapter 10: Comprehensive and Basic Estate Planning Programs
Chapter 11: Standalone Handtool Programs and Spreadsheets
Chapter 12: State Estate and Inheritance Tax Calculations
Chapter 13: Life Insurance Calculations, Planning and Resources
Chapter 14: Charitable Giving Software & Calculation Tables – Commercial & Free
Chapter 15: Business Entity Planning Software and Resources
Chapter 16: Pension, Retirement and Financial Planning and Collectibles
Chapter 17: Programs & Web-Based Calculators for Miscellaneous Calculations

Part 3: Client Communication – Client and Group Presentations

Chapter 18: Presentation of Client Reports, Flow Charts and Aids to Decision Making
Chapter 19: Adobe Acrobat and PDF File Creation and Application
Chapter 20: PowerPoint Opportunities for Communication

Part 4: Drafting and Document Assembly

Chapter 21: Will and Trust Drafting Programs and Their Evaluation

Part 5: Tax Return Preparation and Valuation Resources

Chapter 22: Valuation of Securities and Other Property
Chapter 23: Estate and Gift Tax Return Preparation and Utilities
Chapter 24: Fiduciary Accounting and Income Tax Return Preparation

Part 6: Trusts and Estates Resources on the Web

Chapter 25: Legal Forms Available on the Web
Chapter 26: Planned Giving Resources on the Web
Chapter 27: Organization and Operation of the Family Office
Chapter 28: Primary Sources for Federal & state Tax Materials and Federal Agencies

Part 7: Trusts and Estates Legal Research on the Web

Chapter 29: Resources for Tax, Trusts and Estates Research
Chapter 30: Using Generic Search Engines for Tax and Other T & E Research
As to breadth, depth, and currency of references within his topics, I have not seen a match for Don's new book and its "Trusts & Estates Desktop" resource. In addition, the entire electronic text is searchable by word and phrase -- that's far better than a book index!

I am convinced that if, as a trust & estate professional, you want to get from where you are now in your practice or on a particular case, to where helpful resources are, a great start would be Don's published book & software package,
The Electronic Practice.

In publishing this book and by updating its electronic counterpart routinely, Don Kelley has created a GPS for the trust & estate professional.