Looking Ahead - Estate Planning Technology in 2020
A few years ago, we previewed estate planning technology and the variety of options that were available to those professionals who offer estate planning to their clients. It is always important to keep up with latest software options. Since estate planning is a specialty in many professions, it is imperative to first understand what software platform best serves yours and your clients’ needs.
We look at software as a service for two reasons, one to improve operations and efficiency and two, to generate revenue for a practice.
Since our last review, here is a brief update on the various technologies that offer some type of estate planning component in their systems. 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.
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 new is that a few players in this space are starting to move into the web. The first, Wealth Counsel, a staple of estate planning documents now has a web version available. Others, like InterActive legal are working toward an online version but aren’t quite there yet. Here is a brief list of popular drafting solutions.
Wealth Counsel – One of the largest organizations in estate planning for attorneys and a full provider of document prep software called Wealth Dox. Wealth Counsel offers several other options, such as; Business Dox and Gun Dox.
Fore Trust Software – The software provides you with an automated process for the drafting and assembly of state specific estate planning documents. This software is 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. At the time of this blog, it is still a downloadable product.
Lawgic – Their documents claim to be authored by nationally recognized estate planning experts, the programs patented Intelligent Legal Technology® uses a question and answer session to guide you through the drafting process.
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 & 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 Estate Planning Tools – Brentmark is the number one estate planning calculation engine. With more tools to perform multiple calculations, Brentmark is clearly the leader when it comes to estate and financial calculations.
Emoney Advisor – Known as a financial planning software, a module within the software helps show the distribution of assets and displays potential tax liabilities. If you are implementing detailed financial planning into your estate planning practice.
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.
Apprise Labs – Not yet out and with limited information, this software is advertising some type of estate planning component in its platform.
There are hundreds of document vault platforms, almost too many to name here. I only listed a few below. Most 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, Everplans and Estate Map are excellent ways to get clients involved and to manage and administer estates. These software platforms do not necessarily plan but serves as an aggregator of information. Unfortunately, most are also direct to consumer options.
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.
Yourefolio – A comprehensive platform that helps estate planners’ prospect potential clients, onboard new clients, analyze the estate, create a plan, easy reviews, communication, administration and settlement. Yourefolio provides flow charting, federal and state specific tax calculations and even legacy planning. Other than document prep, this platform does it all and can allow an attorney to expand their reach geographically.
Around the Corner
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.
Helios Plans - A direct offering to financial advisors to have documents drafted in all 50 states. For a starting price of $450, financial advisors can deliver estate planning documents to their clients.
Estate Guru – A direct to financial advisor or consumer offering. The platform provides documents on the spot for a small price.
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 – Estate planning done on an app? Only time will tell. Tomorrow claims to help families of all types achieve financial peace of mind through better long-term financial decision making by providing essential estate planning for free in an easy to use mobile app. Here’s what included, free, with the Tomorrow app, a Last Will & Testament, Revocable Living Trust, Guardianship Protection for Children, Guardianship for Pets, Net Worth Calculator, Life Insurance Calculator, Term Life Insurance Comparison Shopping & Purchase.
It is our intention to provide this review as an information guide for professionals. WE DO NOT ENDORSE ANY OF THESE PLATFORMS, nor are we responsible for the information listed on their websites. While some of these platforms are our partners, we ask that you make informed decisions about the technology that you use.