Estate Planning Technology Landscape 2023
Each year, we published a review of the estate planning technology landscape. Our blog was designed not as a promotion but a reference for professionals when looking for technology available that services the estate planning industry. It is always important to keep up with latest software options in estate planning. Since estate planning is a specialty in many professions, it is imperative to first understand what software platform best serves your and your clients’ needs.
Our review takes a look at all the daily tasks estate planners perform. Our review matches those tasks with the software that can streamline or improve those tasks.
Since our last review in 2022 there has been some changes. Below is a brief update on the various technologies that offer some type of estate planning component in their systems or can assist in estate planning. As a footnote, all financial planning software must have an estate planning component to consider themselves financial planning software. While this is not the main component in the planning software, some component of estate planning is baked in. We only list the predominant or most used financial planning platforms for estate planning based on feedback we receive throughout the year.
Nemu – This is a solution that is more needed than estate planners realize. With the founder’s motivation of her experience inheriting property, the goal is to make the process of dividing and selling family heirlooms less overwhelming, stressful, and emotional for families. This is an awesome way to connect with the next generation of wealth. This is a software that should get a lot of traction.
Estateably – A new player out of Canada that offers trust and administration software. Like others, they offer automated form filling, reports and easy-to-use accounting to power a practice.
Trustate – A very interesting solution for estate administration. The platform can complete automate estate operations and tasks. The unique part of this offering is that for a fee, staff will actually prepare and delivery administration documents to attorneys. This helps alleviate paralegals service and provides more time for the attorneys to settle more estates.
Document Prep Software
While legal documents are a biproduct of estate planning, they are 100% necessary. There are a lot of options available to attorneys. What we have found is that more document drafting solutions are moving into web-based platforms and away from desktop applications. We are learning that legacy platforms are still in this process of migrating to cloud-based systems and are eventually planning to deprecate their desktop platforms over time.
We have not found any new participants in this space as of 2023 but here are some of the legacy systems that are still available.
Fore Trust Software – The software provides you with an automated process for the drafting and assembly of state-specific estate planning documents. This software appears to still be desktop based and must be downloaded on a computer to be used. Pricing appears to be at a lower cost than that of most competitors.
*Interactive Legal – A document prep service that provides a comprehensive system of easy-to-use document drafting system. Interactive Legal is a popular drafting solution also and joined by some popular names in the estate planning industry. Interactive Legal has moved into a web-based platform.
Lawgic – Their documents claim to be authored by nationally recognized estate planning experts, and the program’s patented Intelligent Legal Technology® uses a question-and-answer session to guide you through the drafting process. As of this blog, we do not know if it web-based or downloadable.
Customer Relationship Software (CRM)
Salesforce – The largest customer relationship software (CRM) in the industry, but also one of the priciest. A clear leader in the CRM software industry with the resources to support it. If you are looking for the industry best, you would certainly need to take a look at Salesforce.
*Clio – One of the popular CRM tools for attorneys. Clio offers all you need to run a law practice from intake to invoice, with powerful tools to manage cases, clients, documents, bills, calendars, time tracking, reporting, and accounting.
Practice Panther – A very thorough CRM that does a lot of business management. It starts by managing your contacts, trust and operating accounts. The platform syncs with QuickBooks, tracks time, calendars, and emails (syncs with Gmail, Outlook, and more.) Practice Panther provides a client portal, billing, intake forms and more.
Actionstep - A complete legal practice management system, built in the cloud. Actionstep gets rid of law firm “administrivia” and simplifies attorneys work. It appears it is growing in popularity even though it is headquartered outside of North America.
*Brentmark – A behind the scenes name but industry gold-standard for highly accurate estate, retirement, and charitable planning calculation software for over 35 years. Brentmark was the original support engine for Number Cruncher. Now a standalone solution, Brentmark has advance the old Number Cruncher into their own web-based platform.
Leimberg, LeClair, Lackner, Inc. – The recent passing of Steve Leimberg, it is unknown what effect this will have on the support for this platform. It is only currently offering a downloadable version of the 2022 software. A staple for estate planning calculations, Number Cruncher is still available today.
Bloomberg BNA Software – A very comprehensive tax planning software, typically used by accountants. The platform has a module that provides charitable and gift planning. Very complex and thorough, the learning curve may be challenging though.
Roger Healy calculators, Z Calc and PG Calc – These calculators are limited but do offer advanced tax calculations. Roger Healy is free and can be found at rogerhealy.com.
Yourefolio – The best “estate planning” visuals in the industry. Easy to use with all the detail. Yourefolio offers illustrations in the flow of an estate, estate strategies and even a drag and drop whiteboard called Flowwhiz.
Smartdraw - One of the most popular options in flowcharting. Smartdraw is impactful and easy to use. It is a very nimble solution for creating nice flowcharts.
Draw.io – A simple solution that can create nice designs. Very inexpensive and simple to use. Also, a good option for flowcharting.
Lucidchart – A name that has been around for a while. Lucidchart is free and you can create nice, easy charts using the software.
There used to be hundreds of document vault platforms, almost too many to name. It appears that they are slowly dissipating. We only list a few here. They allow secure storing of documents, sharing and access. Some are client based and others are professional based. If you are providing this as a service, you may want to consider imbedding a link on your site for client access. Some of these platforms will not allow for that, so make sure you do your homework.
FidSafe – This is a free option created by Fidelity. If you work with Fidelity advisors, it’s a must to share documents back and forth with those professionals.
Here are a few other popular document vaults that you may want to consider. DocuBank has been around for a while and offers a medical card to clients. Future Vault, Dropbox, Life Estate Organizer and LawSafe software platforms serve as an aggregator of information. Most are direct to consumer options, so while they serve a purpose, they may not create a permanent link to the client.
Trust Administration Software
Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE– Software streamlines the creation, execution, and maintenance of trusts and estates with integrated solutions that handle the entire process from start to finish.
Estate Works – a web-based system that defines workflow and monitors deadlines, enabling effective practice management without diverting high producers.
Lackner Group – There 6-in-1 estate and trust administration is a staple in the industry. It is the answer to the challenge of collecting and tracking the vast amount of data and information relating to the administration of estates and trusts.
WealthHub Trust Administration – Designed by Trust Officers and Trust Administrators. The platform automates the daily functions of a trust officer or other fiduciary professional and provides visibility, reporting, controls, and compliance assurance for trust company management.
We call these the intangibles because these platforms are differentiators in a practice. Utilizing platforms such as these could be the difference between someone choosing your practice vs. another.
*Directive Communication Systems – The leader in digital asset servicing. With even more and more attention given to digital assets, Directive Communication Systems (DCS) goes beyond the aggregation of digital assets. It assists attorneys and personal representatives by organizing and contacting personal accounts to fulfill an individual’s final wishes.
Family Wealth Map – Designed to manage information for large complex estates. This platform provides a team confidence that its members have the complete set of information. Client Information Management or "CIM" is a new concept in the private-client practice. This platform strives to collect, organize and communicate information.
Decision Vault - Simplifies intake for your clients & automate the data flows in your practice. The data can be exported or sync to your case management system or draft platform in seconds.
Yourefolio – A comprehensive platform that modernizes estate planning into one platform. From prospecting, intake, documents, illustrations, and summary reports, Yourefolio is truly the all in one software. Well known for the estate planning illustrations, Yourefolio helps clients visualize the flow of their estate. With a new advanced planning release, now you can simply calculate the effects of various strategies on an estate plan along with accompanying visual illustrations. The platform is so unique that it is the only drafting solution that generates flowcharts and the end of the Revocable Trust for easy explanation and understanding by clients. Yourefolio is really a one-stop shop for estate planning.
Just Vanilla – Labeled as Estate Planning for Wealth Advisors, the platform is designed to assist wealth advisors, financial planners, and estate strategists deliver better estate planning advice to clients. Vanilla makes it easy to turn complex estate plans and financial data into a clear and simple picture with powerful interactive visuals and on-demand reports. We are still unsure from feedback whether this is a service or a technology that produces the output.
Direct to Consumer or Service Technology
These platforms are essentially direct to consumer offerings. Not quite like Legal Zoom or Rocket Lawyer, each tries a different angled approach to gathering business. Keep your eye on these startups.
Estate Guru – A direct to financial advisor or consumer offering. The platform provides documents on the spot for a small price.
Trust & Will – Similar to Estate Guru, an individual can create an estate plan for as little as $159 with Revocable Trust packages priced at $599.
Cake (joincake.com) – Difficult to determine what the software actually does, their website claims to help navigate mortality. They claim to be the largest end-of-life platform on the internet.
EncorEstate Plans – Now open for business, EncorEstate Plans is a document and summary solution for financial advisors.
EP Navigator – A rebranded version of Estate Guru, a drafting solution that is marketed to consumers and financial advisors. EP Navigator has a re-distribution agreement with Estate Guru but is essentially the same software platform.
Tomorrow.me – Now called Ethos Life, it appears to be owned by an insurance general agency. Wills and Trusts are free on the site with the purchase of life insurance. Otherwise, you can get a Will for $149 and a Full estate planning tool for $449. It does appear that agents can use this service with their clients as there is a agent login on the site.
*eState Planning (Epic Services Company) – A digital estate planning company who offers estate planning services for individuals and financial advisors. The company also offers a digital vault as part of their service. Great option for those who are looking for specific Nevada trusts and personal service…with an attorney!
We hope you find this review helpful in your practice. This blog is not intended as an endorsement of any platform. It is also not intended to promote our own service. We provide this guide so that professionals can easily search for software and match a solution to their needs. If there is a solution that we missed or something you would like added, please let us know. We can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org