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Trusts and Estates Practice Resources on the Internet

Trusts and Estates Practice Resources on the Internet

General references and specific links to web-based practice help

The Internet provides an amazing repository of information, primary law, estate planning techniques and other materials needed in the trusts and estates practice.  Included in these resources are those relating to specific areas of the practice, as described and linked to in this article. 


American Bar Association RPTE Section

The American Bar Association, Real Property Trust & Estate Law website Home page is at

To subscribe to the ABA-PTL and other RPTE section listservs, go to, where archived email messages on the ABA-PTL list service relating to various trusts and estates topics are available.  

Annual reports of the Heckerling Institute (click on the year you desire) are available from the ABA RPTE Section website.  The reports may be viewed online or downloaded in Word or PDF format.


American College of Trust and Estate Counsel

The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) public website maintains extensive links to a variety of trust and estate subjects.

The Governmental Relations area of the ACTEC website features Legislative & Regulatory Analysis providing technical commentary and expertise to Congress, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of the Treasury in regard to proposed or existing regulations, forms or other administrative rulings.

ACTEC also has Steve Akers’ Summaries of recent developments in trust, estate and tax law posted on its public website.


Prenuptial Agreements

Internet resources on the interplay between prenuptial agreements and estate planning include:

Moyer, Prenups and Estate Planning (WSJ 11/15/2013), is an introduction to the estate planning issues affecting prenups.

Prenuptial and Estate Plans ? Make Sure They Work together (Dominick, Feld, Hyde, P.C. 2014).

Prenuptial Agreements Can Be an Estate Planning Tool (ElderLawAnswers) deals with the effects of remarriage on an estate plan.

Isreal, Ten Things I Hate About Prenuptial Agreements (IVKD Law) looks at the difficult issues presented by prenuptial agreements in first marriages.



The remarkable website presents free intestacy calculators for all states and the District of Columbia, links to intestacy laws, an Interactive Summary of State Intestacy Laws, a Degrees of Kinship Chart and other resources. It also features per stirpes and per capita calculators that compute the amount of the net estate passing to each heir based on such estate divisions. Additionally, it presents facts and charts on degrees of kinship, intestacy law, family member shares and blended family shares.  See the author's review of this product at (

Child Welfare Information Gateway offers information on the effects of adoption on inheritance and access to state statutes on intestacy.

LawontheWeb presents the rules on intestacy in the United Kingdom.

The Seattle University School of Law website has information on the effects of the American Indian Reform Act of 2004 on the inheritance of federal trust property and presents estate-planning charts and forms, including intestate succession and estate planning for Indian tribal trust land.


Charitable Trusts

A wide variety of substantive resources on charitable giving and charitable trusts are available at the Planned Giving Design Center, which also publishes a charitable giving newsletter. is a fee-based website that provides a comprehensive variety of resources for professionals addressing planned-giving arrangements and the formation and administration of charitable organizations.

A number of resources for the planned giving practice are also available at



The ACTEC public website has Summaries of State Decanting Statutes, compiled by Susan T. Bart (8/22/2014).

Oshins, 1st Annual Trust Decanting State Rankings Chart (2014).


Elder Law

The ACTEC website maintains extensive links to websites addressing advance directives, Medicare, death, dying and grief, retirement, information for caregivers, Medicaid, elder law websites, end of life issues, organ and tissue donation and Social Security.  Other helpful elder law resources on the internet include:

Robert Clofine’s Elder Law and Estate Planning webpage has useful resources and links.   

The American Bar Association and American Psychological Association publication Assessment of Older Adults With Diminished Capacity: A Handbook for Lawyers is available online.

Ahrens, How to Build a Recession Proof Practice (PDF format), analyzes numerous issues in trusts and estates and elder law practices in these difficult economic times.


Social Security

The ACTEC Social Security links include the Social Security Administration website, Benefits Planner, Social Security Database, Social Security Handbook, Q & A, and information on trusts for disabled children.

The Social Security Administration ("SSA") Publication SSA-05-10121 outlines how to interface with SSA online, including checking information and applying for benefits.  

Social Security permits an option to start collecting early benefits, invest them and then at age 70, file a withdrawal application form 521 and pay back the benefits received with no interest or adjustment for inflation.  One may then reapply for Social Security, claiming a larger monthly check based on the current age. For information on this option see the Social Security Retirement Planner.


Dynasty Trusts

Steve Oshin’s articles on Dynasty Trusts are available at Oshins &  Associates.  He also provides a list of statutes in Dynasty Trust States (Oshins & Associates).

Greer, The Alaska Dynasty Trust, 18 Alaska L. Rev. 253, explains and analyses dynasty trusts; as does Oshins & Blattmachr, The Megatrust: An Ideal Family Wealth Preservation Tool.


Split Interest Trusts—GRATs, GRUTs, QPRTs, etc.

Weinreb, Wealth Transfer Strategies: The Timely and The Timeless, discusses GRATS in low interest times (Bernstein Global Wealth Management).

Sunderman, GRAT planning with S corporation stock (The Free Library).

Ackers, Transfer Planning, Including Use Of Grats, Installment Sales To Grantor Trusts, And Defined Value Clauses To Limit Gift Exposure (2007).


Special Needs Trusts

S. Grassi, A Practical Guide to Estate Planning for a Family With a Special Needs Child (ALI CLE 2009).  Price: $159. has a compendium of both practical and legal resources for special needs planning.

The Indiana University Personal Plans Advisor offers practical information for caring for a child with special needs and making appropriate legal provisions.


Installment Sales to Grantor Trusts

An installment sale to a grantor trust is essentially a technique for value freezing designed to shift future appreciation in value to the trust.  Other shifting of wealth from the grantor arises through the grantor’s payment of the grantor trust’s federal and state income tax liabilities. Some resources on this technique available on the internet include:

Steinberg, Hesch & Smith, Grantor Trusts, Supercharging Your Estate Plan, (Tax Management Estates, Gifts and Trusts Journal 1/11/2007).  

For a detailed comparison of GRATs and installment sales to grantor trusts as value freezing transactions, see Aucutt, Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs) and Sales to Grantor Trusts (2007); Aucutt, Current Thinking on Zeroed Out GRATs and Sales to Grantor Trusts (2006); Lavner, Tax Free Gifting: Comparing GRATS and Sales to Grantor Trusts (2007); and Blattmachr, Evaluating the Potential Success of a GRAT Against Competing Strategies to Transfer Wealth (Tax Management Memorandum 2006), which also analyzes the economics of these transactions and calculating methodologies.


Revocable Trusts

The Florida Bar publishes an excellent pamphlet on The Revocable Trust for consumers.

For drafting suggestions, see Turner, Joint Revocable Trusts: New Flexibility in an Old Form, 2 GP/Solo 2 (February 2006).

Joint revocable trusts are common in community property jurisdictions and the practitioner in a common law state may be faced with dealing with an existing joint trust when consulted by clients moving from a community property state.  For guidance in dealing with such situations, see Goodman, Joint Revocable Living Trusts: the Good the Bad and the Ugly, 39 Colorado Lawyer 53 (January 2010).


The Military

The PA Elder, Estate & Fiduciary Law Blog has information and links to webpages addressing estate planning for military personnel.


Asset Protection

Jonathan Alper’s The Florida Asset Protection Blog discusses a variety of asset protection issues.

Oshins, Annual Domestic Asset Protection Trust State Rankings Chart (updated) compares state asset protection laws.

The ACTEC Comparison of the Domestic Asset Protection Trust Statutes updated through April 2014 (edited by David G. Shaftel), is available on the ACTEC website.


The Bottom Line

The Internet offers extensive, continually expanding and (mostly) free resources on numerous areas of the trusts and estates practice.  It pays to search for practice help on the Internet with boldness and imagination.  The secondary materials you find on the Internet are, of course, often unedited and discrimination in their use is imperative.


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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