GEMS (Gillett Estate Management Suite)

Automated estate and gift tax returns and fiduciary accounting in one package

Kelley Rating (one asterisk = lowest, five asterisks = highest):

  • Ease of navigation, design of interface and learning curve *****
  • Instructional documentation and help system ****
  • Carries out the goal of the product as advertised *****
  • Overall usefulness *****


The Gillett Estate Management Suite (GEMS) automates the preparation of federal estate and gift tax returns, fiduciary accountings and certain state estate tax returns and accountings through separate modules for each, integrated into a single software package. The modules, which are sold separately, include:

GEM706prepares all the schedules that comprise the Form 706, posts data from the schedules to other areas of the Form 706 and enables you to otherwise complete the Form 706, including special use value through Schedule A-1. It assists in the entry of asset items by permitting you to transfer information from accounts prepared by the included GEMAcct fiduciary accounting module and federal gift tax returns prepared by the included GEM709. GEM706 also automatically computes the optimum marital legacy, where appropriate.

The program includes state death tax modules for Conn, Ill. (2009), Ind., Md., Mass., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Pa. and Wash. It has the ability to bring the state death tax deduction forward to the Form 706 from the state module you prepare.

GEM709prepares all schedules and other pages of the Form 709. It enables you to automatically allocate direct or indirect skips to apply sufficient generation skipping-transfer (GST) tax exemption to create a zero inclusion ratio. It performs net gift calculations and even provides a special format for reporting and printing Crummey transfers. It also imports data from earlier GEM709 editions for use in current filings. You can transfer and copy gifts between spouse’ schedule trees. It includes comprehensive applications for split gifts and GSTs. The state gift tax return for Conn. is available.

You may initialize a new data file from the donor's prior year files entered in GEMS, and in addition to bringing forward the historical gift information, you have the option of transferring the actual gifts made in the previous year.

The federal gift tax returns (GEM709) module includes support for contributions to qualified tuition programs as provided in Internal Revenue Code Section 529, including the election under IRC Section 529(c)(2) to treat the contribution as if made ratably over a five-year period.

GEMAcct prepares reports that comply with the National Fiduciary Accounting Standards and allows you to define custom reports to comply with the requirements of a specific jurisdiction. You can specify either date of death value or an alternate value when importing data from the GEM706 module. Through Quicken, you can download information relating to assets and transactions from financial institutions and then transfer that information directly into GEMAcct.

One GEMAcct option permits you to select assets to fund a pecuniary bequest. Depending on the funding clause, you can elect to use either the acquisition value or date of distribution value. GEMAcct also helps you fund a fairly representative distribution. In making final fractional distributions, if the personal representative has discretion to make non-pro rata distributions, you can allocate specific assets to one or more beneficiaries. GEMAcct will automatically adjust the fractional distribution of the remaining assets based on the values as of the date of distribution. You can elect to create a new data file with the assets distributed to satisfy the bequest for either of the distribution methods. GEMAcct sorts the distribution reports in the order in which you have entered the beneficiaries, and you can easily reorder the beneficiaries in the beneficiaries program division, which permits you to reorder the distribution reports.

When processing lot sales, GEMAcct shows each lot’s carrying value and whether its sale will give rise to short- or long-term capital gain as an aid for the selection of shares to be sold. You may enter the acquisition date for each asset to override GEMAcct’s default rules with respect to whether the transaction will result in short- or long-term gain. GEMAcct also provides a number of print options, including the ability to print the entire account tree, including all the account information displayed on the screen. An interesting feature is that inventory entries may be changed, but, if there are transactions based on such an entry, a warning appears with the ability to page through the affected transactions and with appropriate changes suggested. This type of error trapping is also triggered by transactions entered out of chronological order.

State accounting modules are available for Calif., Conn., Fla., and N.Y. State estate/inheritance tax preparation modules are available for Conn., IL, Ind. (inheritance tax), Md., Mass., N.J. (inheritance tax), N.Y., Ohio, Pa. (inheritance tax) and Wash. The Conn. gift tax return is also provided.

An integrated solution with the CCH ATX fiduciary tax software is available through the GEMAcct/ATX interface, which allow you to transfer information directly from the GEMS accounting software to the ATX Form 1041 and its supporting schedules.

In GEMAcct you can download securities holdings from financial institutions through Quicken. In both GEM706 and GEM709, you can interface with EVP systems to value securities at either the date of death or the alternate valuation date. You can import existing EVP portfolios as well as price online. The program also permits the import of data from EstateWorks system and includes a Generic Text import with user-definable input specifications.

The program also provides an Updates option directly on the introductory screen that appears when you launch the program and uses your internet connection to automatically check for future updates. You can turn off the automatic update feature and manually check for updates, if you desire.

All the program modules include spell checking, advanced word processing and formatting capabilities.

Users are permitted to add custom watermarks and footers to the all reports and forms, including those generated by the state modules.

Competitive Products

Other products that include integrated estate related return preparation and fiduciary accounting are:

Fiduciary Practice System (FastTax): Programs for fiduciary accounting, federal 706 and state inheritance/estate tax, federal 1041 and state fiduciary income tax, federal 709 gift tax and scheduling.

Heritance Quick &Easy State and Federal Tax Modules: This product produces state specific automated forms and federal 706, 709 and 1041 forms. It performs data integration between related fields even on different forms and integrates with the Heritance fiduciary accounting module. It includes tickler system and some state forms.

Lackner 6-in-1 Estate Administration System (Windows/Mac): A “one-write” system for the collection of data relevant to the administration of an estate, and the generation of reports and tax returns from that data. It includes 706, 709, 1041, state death tax for Pa., and Ind.; probate forms for Conn., Pa.; inventory, accounting and state fiduciary income tax modules.


How Does It Work?

The GEMS program opens with a screen from which you can select the federal estate tax returns, fiduciary accountings or federal gift tax returns module. A screen then appears and you may select an existing data file or to create a new data file. Each of the GEMS modules initiates its operation from a single screen with the general program actions listed on the left hand pane (referred to as the main menu) and a summary of the current return or accounting shown in the right hand pane. Menus for utilities, preferences and help are on a bar at the top of the screen. Each module always displays the active function keys on the key to reduce the learning curve.

This review will use the form 706 preparation as an illustration of the operation of the GEMS program, but each of the modules operates in a similar fashion. The most recent version of GEMS706 prepares the 2009 form 706 and will calculate the federal estate tax for 2010 based on the law in effect for 2009. A new version will be issued for when the federal estate tax law for 2011 is settled.

The federal estate tax returns module lists pages 1, 2 and 3, and all the schedules on the right hand pane. As data is entered the right hand pane becomes a tree that displays all of the schedules, information required for each schedule and the items that have been entered for each schedule. As a result, navigation to any element of the return you are working on is clearly displayed. To enter data on a schedule you click on the schedule, or any existing item on that schedule, and either press the F7 function key or click on the “F7 – Add Item” button at the bottom of the screen.

The left hand pane lists the other data to be entered such as decedent information, beneficiaries state death tax information and elections to be made. You may click on any item on the main menu to bring up a dialog box, or series of index screens and dialog boxes, with prompts for the information to be entered or the selections to be made. The main menu lists the print choices available and the utilities. Under utilities you may choose to transfer data to a GEMAcct accounting data file or transfer prior gift information from a GEM709 data file.

What About Help and Support?

A comprehensive manual in PDF format is furnished for each of the program modules. The program does not, however, provide context sensitive help topics.

Free customer support is provided to users with current licenses by email or telephone (from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., Central Time.) A demo of the GEMS 2010 version that is fully operational for 30 days is available from the publisher’s website.

Product Availability

A single user version of GEMS is $1,295, with an annual renewal of $650. The network version is $1,995, with annual renewal of $1,000. The license for either 2009 or 2010 includes GEM706 and GEM709 for the selected year and GEMAcct for periods one year after the end of the selected year.

Purchase of GEMS may be made through the Sales Department at:

Phone: 888-GEMS706 (436-7706)

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.gillettpublishing.com/

Bottom Line

GEMS provides an integrated environment for the computation and reporting of estate and gift tax returns and fiduciary accounting that is both user friendly and highly sophisticated.

Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley—a respected connoisseur of the software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices.

Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo. and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Neb. He is the co-author of the Intuitive Estate Planner Software, (Thomson – West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Committee on Technology in the Practice of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at [email protected]

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