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Recent Developments in Tech Resources for the Trusts & Estates Practice, Part 2

Recent Developments in Tech Resources for the Trusts & Estates Practice, Part 2

Software and internet resources for trusts and estates practitioners

Looking back on the year 2014, and so far in 2015, reflects a great number of technological developments of interest to trusts and estates practitioners, including software enhancements, new Internet resources and tech suggestions by writers in this area.  This article reports on more of these developments.

Commentary on the Internet for trust and estate practitioners

Even a Perfect Estate Plan Can Turn Into a Mess: Five Rules from the Administrative Front Lines (Colorado State Bank and Trust 1/27/2015) discussing the problems of family relationships, beneficiary behavior and the need for professional trustees.  See also, the Colorado State Bank’s article, Preparing the Next Generation to Manage Wealth.

Keebler, The Mathematics of Portability (AICPA Personal Financial Planning Section 2013) is a slide show covering portability basics and the math of portability with state income tax references, step-up issues and QTIPs.

Our Top 10 Best Articles on Tax & IRA Planning (Ultimate Estate Planner 11/10/2014) covers beneficiary designation for IRAs, post-death exchanges, the Aragona trust, portability, Form 8960 and other issues.

Clontz, Immediate Annuities and Gift Planning – Part One (PGDC 9/5/2014) and Immediate Annuities and Gift Planning – Part Two (PGDC 9/9/2014) discuss the income, cash flow and charitable features of commercial and charitable annuities.

Keebler & Oshins, 10 Best Estate Planning Strategies in 2015 ( 1/27/2015) available on demand, discusses GRATs, lifetime gifts, decanting, dynasty trusts, sales to intentionally defective grantor trusts, ILITs and other strategies.

Practice materials

Keebler, If You Prepare 1040’s or 1041’s, You Better Beware of the Traps Found Last Year In the New Form 8960 (Reporting Net Investment Income Tax) (Ultimate Estate Planner 2015) lists key issues and links to Bob Keebler’s teleconference, which will be available after 2/12/2015 in their On-Demand Library.

Keebler, Everything You Need to Know About Decanting an Irrevocable Trust – 2-Part Series (Ultimate Estate Planner (fee-based, January 2015).

Svenson & Lenon, Taming the File Cabinet: Paperless Essentials for Lawyers (Clio 1/27/2015) discusses documents and files you need to save, best practices for electronic storage and tools and technology to go paperless.

Practice Tools for Attorneys (Smilie G. Rogers website) presents an array of client interview and asset worksheet forms, checklists and visual aids; including ILITs, will provisions, advanced directives and plan illustrations.

Your Guide to Onboarding Success (LabTech) is a free ebook discussing the techniques of solidifying a relationship with a new client.

Felix, Ask Questions to Prepare for the Successor Trustee (PGDC 1/6/2015) includes a questionnaire to help lay the foundation for selection of a successor trustee.

9 steps to getting your estate plan in order (RetireMentors 11/3/2014) presents a checklist for client preparation for estate planning that should be of interest to practitioners.

There’s More to Estate Planning Than Just the Will (New York Times 9/5/2014) a discussion from the viewpoint of the heir and links to books by heirs discussing their experiences and offering advice.

Primary research materials

Where Not to Die – Estate and Inheritance Tax 2015 – Wall Street Journal – 10/25/14 (Skloff Financial Group) gives a quick review of state estate/inheritance exemptions and rates.  Ebling, Where Not to Die in 2015 (Forbes 9/11/2014) compares state estate taxes and discusses domicile change.

Cloud Computing

5 Myths of Cloud Computing (TechRepublic, from HP, Sept. 2014) will help you with the vocabulary and concepts of the “cloud.”

Duffy, Best Cloud Storage Solutions (PC Magazine 4/2/2014) and Casserley, 7 best cloud storage services 2015: Dropbox vs Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud and more (PC Advisor 1/5/2015) discuss the best online services for document storage and backup.

Mobile Devices

Bradley, 3 reasons to invest in a Surface Pro 3 instead of an iPad Air 2 (TechRepublic 10/22/2014) discusses the capabilities of the Surface Pro and its utility as a PC substitute.

Kennedy, Which apps are must-haves? It depends on your practice (ABA Journal 2/1/2015) suggests a strategy for finding helpful apps specific to your type of practice.

App Advice is a new website presenting news and reviews of apps in general; including, for example, Calculators for the iPad.

Posey, Five mobile apps for opening a variety of email attachments (TechRepublic 12/3/2014) discusses the use of Adobe Reader, WinZip and Microsoft Office Mobile.

20 Incredibly Useful Free Apps From Microsoft (Business Insider) introduces some helpful apps.

Email Management

Harkins, Seven ways to sort and view Outlook email by accounts (TechRepublic 1/27/2015) discusses the use of rules, accounts and views to sort and organize your email storage. 

Tips for working with Microsoft Office components

What’s new in Microsoft Outlook 2010 (Microsoft Office) reviews the expanded ribbon, message view, improvements in filing and working with messages and calendar improvements to Outlook.

Harkins, Take advantage of these free online Office resources (TechRepublic 12/29/2014) discusses and links to websites with tutorials and technical resources for Microsoft Office components, including PowerPoint and Outlook.


Great Resource About Evernote for Lawyers (The Mac Lawyer, 1/21/2015) provides a comprehensive review of keeping track of all sorts of information and why the Evernote software can be invaluable.

Quicken Social Security Optimizer (2015), published together with LifeYield, is offered to laypersons but also provides a useful tool to practitioners to analyze the most advantageous methodology to follow in planning and filing for a client’s Social Security benefits.  See the discussion by Quicken at Investing Center Preview.

Lauren Barack, Stripped Down Social Security ( 1/13/2015) lists and discusses  a variety of electronic tools to assist with advising clients on the complex issues of Social Security benefits and integrating them with their estate plan.

Files that are too large to email, such as PDFs, can be transferred by uploading to your own website or using services such as ShareFile, which provides secure file sharing; SecureFilePro, which  allows you to send and receive documents on your own secure site,  and Microsoft’s OneDrive, where you can create a free site to upload a file and share the url with others to download.  Dropbox (free trial or monthly charge) also provides the ability to transfer large files.  See Bradley, No more bulky attachments with OWA and OneDrive for Business (TechRepublic 10/15/2014) and a comparison of Dropbox and other file services at Get Hightail vs Dropbox Comparison.

Li, Technology rewires the drafting and review of contracts (ABA Journal 11/1/2014) reviews the DiligenceEngine software that automates contract review and discusses the ContractStandards tool that both assists in drafting of agreements and auditing them for necessary clauses.


Carson, Digital eye strain: Understanding the condition and how to fight it (TechRepublic 11/19/2014) offers eye care tips for you and your staff.

Bottom Line 

The wide variety of comments and information on electronic resources published in late 2014 and early 2015 offers 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].

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