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Recent Developments in Tech Resources for the Trusts & Estates Practice, Part 1

Recent Developments in Tech Resources for the Trusts & Estates Practice, Part 1

Developments in software and internet resources for estate planners in 2014

Looking back on the year 2014 reflects a great number of technological developments of interest to trusts and estates practitioners. These include software enhancements, new internet resources and tech suggestions by writers in this area.

Commentary on the internet for trust and estate practitioners

Hutter, Peterson & Safapour, 3 Common Pitfalls in Estate Planning and What You Can Do to Avoid Them (ABA Journal, 12/16/14) discussing holistic planning, adapting a plan to present realities and problems of implementation of a plan. 

Brook, 4 Steps to Drafting a Contract to Your Client’s Advantage (California Education of the Bar, 12/12/2014) presents practical advice on contract draftsmanship.

Geer, Estate Planning for Single People (Wall Street Journal 12/7/2014) presents advice to lay persons that also might be of interest to practitioners.

The Ultimate Estate Planner, Our Top 10 Best Articles on Tax & IRA Planning (11/29/2014), including Robert S. Keebler on Beneficiary Designation Problems with IRAs, trustee material participation issues, IRS attack on IDGT sales and recent IRA developments.

Robert S. Keebler’s program (fee-based) Don’t be a NIIT-Wit: Getting to Know the Net Investment Income Tax and IRS Form 8960 is available on the Ultimate Estate Planner website.

Robert S. Keebler’s program (fee-based) When Advising Clients on Portability Are You Just Making a Judgment Call Or Are You Doing The Math? is available on the Ultimate Estate Planner website.

Steve Oshins has published his 3rd Annual Dynasty Trust State Rankings Chart, 2nd Annual Trust Decanting State Rankings Chart and 5th Annual Domestic Asset Protection Trust State Rankings Chart. See also, Patricia Culler’s chart State Decanting Statutes Passed or Proposed  (ACTEC 3/25/2014).

Family business planning resources

Crooks, Family Business Succession Planning (Ultimate Estate Planner 11/3/2014) discusses the challenges advisors face in helping clients to perpetuate the family business and the techniques that may be applied to this area of practice, including a checklist of questions to pose to the client as they assess their business planning needs.

Practice materials on the internet

Attorney to Attorney Services and Practice Aids (Smilie G. Rogers, PLLC) including estate planning interview forms; will review checklist; visual aids for powers and health care directives, supplemental needs trust planning, outright legacy with disclaimer trust, basis step up at death, estate trust, ILIT plan, DSUEA disclaimer trust, complex estate and business plan, tax filings after death flowchart, QPRT diagram and real estate planning matrix.

Young, My Paperless Office (The Docket 10/24/2014) provides practical advice on maintaining a paperless office.

Fox, Inviting a Facilitator to a Family Retreat (PGDC 10/21/2014). The the value of a family retreat to discuss gifting, business succession, vacation homes and other estate planning matters may be enhanced by including a facilitator to enhance communication among the participants.

Bailey, The Shift from Estate Planning to Estate Probating (Trusts & Estates 10/21/2014) discusses practice emphasis in a time of increasing elderly population and client neglect of estate planning.

Primary research materials on the internet

IRS Telephone Directory for Practitioners (12/11/2014, Small Business Self-Employed Stakeholder Liasion Division) by states, aggregated by James C. Counts II.

Zillman, Student Resources Research Library (LLRX 10/11/2014) is a comprehensive listing of resources and sites focused on student but still valuable to practitioners, including such references as Academic Scholar Search Engines and Sources, AuthorGEN tools for efficient communication, Business Intelligence Resources, Finding Company–Industry and Trade Information, the Harvard Referencing Generator for cites, eFinancialBot global financial search engine, Financial Calculators, Financial Sources, iAnnotatePDF markup tools for collaborators and much more.

Zillman, Online Research Tools, offers an updated listing of online research tools.

Bar Association materials on the internet

Black, NY bar on ethics of cloud computing (LLRX 2014). Opinions in 2014 from the New York Bar committee on the duty of due diligence when assessing the security of third party service providers through reasonable protections against disclosure and reasonable precautions when using cloud technology.

Mobile Devices

Bort, 20 Incredibly Useful Free Apps From Microsoft (Business Insider 11/27/2014) including 3D and panoramic photographs, control presentations from your phone, OneNote app, Office Lens scanner, Remote Desktop to connect with your PC, OneDrive storage service that now includes Office Online, Templates for Office Online

The Mac Lawyer, where to find the best app deals discusses new apps and effective purchasing.

Posey, Five mobile apps for opening a variety of email attachments (Tech Republic 12/3/2014) discusses Adobe Reader, WinZip, Microsoft Office Mobile (simplified versions of Office programs), DocuSign and GoToMeeting for mobile devices.

Bradley, 3 reasons to invest in Surface Pro 3 instead of an iPad Air 2 (Tech Republic 10/22/2014).


Email utilities

Use Conversation Cleanup to eliminate redundant messages (Office Online). This feature, included in Outlook 2010, evaluates the contents of each message in a conversation thread, deletes the message and, if it’s completely contained within one of the replies, deletes the previous message as well.

Take Control of Your Email with Boomerang (The MacLawyer 11/19/2014) discusses Boomerang, which helps you determine when emails appear in your Inbox or when they were sent to your recipients, automatically reminds you if don’t hear back from a recipient and contains other features to help you unclutter your Inbox. 

Tips for working with Microsoft Office components

Henley, Five Microsoft Word Rules You Must Follow (Lawyerist 11/13/2014) provides more help for hands-on Word users.

Harkins, Six been-around-the-block tips for working more efficiently in Excel (TechRepublic 10/20/2014) provides a review of techniques for enhancing your efficiency with Excel spreadsheets. 

Collins, Combination Charts (Journal of Accountancy 9/1/2014) discusses how to overlay charts in Excel for comparison purposes.

Kennedy, Get the most out of PowerPoint and Keynote with the ‘Presenter View’ (ABA Journal 1/10/2014) contains tips for more effective slide show presentations.


Vien, What small firms and solo practitioners need to know about technology (CPA Insider 12/1/2-14) discusses cloud computing, must-have devices and upgrading your systems.

Burton, 4 Steps to Getting Serious About Law Firm Cybersecurity (Law Practice Today 9/15/2014) stresses that the time has come to thoughtfully analyze the security of the electronic devices involved in your practice.

Eckel, VMware Fusion 7 proves Yosemite-ready (TechRepublic 11/3/2014) discusses the upgrade to Fusion software for running Windows on Macs, and Eckel, How to upgrade VMFusion 6 to 7 explains how to update a VMWare Fusion 6 virtual machine possessing a preexisting Windows installation to version 7.

Stevens, Small PDF Solves Most of Your PDF Needs (MACLawyer 9/19/2014) reviews the pdf manipulating functions of the free Small PDF program that may be superior to Adobe Acrobat.

Gray, 10 ways to stay on top of emerging technologies (TechRepublic 11/6/2014) discusses techniques to keep pace with ever-changing technologies.

“Inline” Presentations tool from PGDC. The PGDC Giving Appreciated Stock client presentation includes an interactive example in which you can enter and edit any input field to change the design of a gift.

Shacklett, 10 ways to improve the ROI of your software (TechRepublic 10/14/2014) will help your firm analyze the usefulness and value of the software you procure.

Bottom Line

This potpourri of electronic resources published in late 2014 covers many issues, ideas and techniques that you and your firm should be sensitive to and that may be profitable for further exploration.



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].

TAGS: Technology
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