Each year, we published a review of the estate planning technology landscape. Our blog was designed not as a promotion but a way for professionals to see a condensed view of the technology available that services the industry. It is always important to keep up with latest software options in estate planning. Since estate planning is a specialty in many professions, it is imperative to first understand what software platform best serves your and your clients’ needs.
Our review takes a look at all the daily tasks estate planners perform. Our review matches those tasks with the software that can streamline or improve those tasks.
Since our last review, here is a brief update on the various technologies that offer some type of estate planning component in their systems or can assist in estate planning. 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 more participants are moving into web-based platforms and away from desktop applications. As of our last report, the Wealth Counsel drafting system has been purchased by ATI Global. ATI Global, based in Australia with some operations in the United States, is active in mergers and acquisitions. At this time, we do not know what this means for the drafting system.
Fore Trust Software – The software provides you with an automated process for the drafting and assembly of state-specific estate planning documents. This software appears to still be 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 Legal1 – 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. Interactive Legal has moved into a web-based platform.
Lawgic – Their documents claim to be authored by nationally recognized estate planning experts, and the program’s patented Intelligent Legal Technology® uses a question-and-answer session to guide you through the drafting process. As of this blog, we do not know if it web-based or downloadable.
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.
Clio1 – 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 and 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.
Brentmark1 – A behind the scenes name but industry gold-standard for highly accurate estate, retirement, and charitable planning calculation software for over 35 years. Brentmark was the original support engine for Number Cruncher. Now a standalone solution, Brentmark has advance the old Number Cruncher into their own web-based platform.
Leimberg, LeClair, Lackner, Inc. – From our review, it appears that this group has joined forces to upgrade the original version of Number Cruncher. We are unsure if it is still downloadable, but we believe that they do not offer a web-based version. Number Cruncher is one of the most trusted and used software for Ultra-High Net Worth planning in the industry.
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, eMoney Advisor is worth a look. 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, the learning curve may be challenging though.
Smartdraw - One of the most popular options in flowcharting. Smartdraw is impactful and easy to use. It is a very nimble solution for creating nice flowcharts.
Draw.io – A simple solution that can create nice designs. Very inexpensive and simple to use. Also, a good option for flowcharting.
Lucidchart – A name that has been around for a while. Lucidchart is free and you can create nice, easy charts using the software.
There used to be hundreds of document vault platforms, almost too many to name. It appears that they are slowly dissipating. We only list a few here. They 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.
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, Dropbox, Life Estate Organizer and LawSafe software platforms serve as an aggregator of information. Most are direct to consumer options, so while they serve a purpose, they may not create a permanent link to the client.
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 Systems1 – 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, drafting documents, provide for easy reviews, communication, administration, and settlement. Yourefolio’s newest features now include document drafting and advanced planning. The platform is primary noted for flow charting, illustrations and connecting everyone in the estate plan. Yourefolio is really a one-stop shop for estate planning.
Just Vanilla – Labeled as Estate Planning for Advisors, Just Vanilla’s website advertises itsability to monitor estate plans, provide estate reports, create visualizations, connection toattorneys and document creation. From what we can tell, we are not sure if this is a technology offering or a service offering.
Other or Direct to Consumer
These platforms are either a direct-to-consumer that are sometimes offered by professional in their business or fall into the other category.
Estate Guru – A direct to financial advisor or consumer offering. The platform providesdocuments on the spot for a small price.
Trust & Will – Similar to Estate Guru, an individual can create an estate plan for as little as $39 with Revocable Trust packages priced at $599.
Cake (joincake.com) – Difficult to determine what the software actually does, their website claims to help navigate mortality. They claim to be the largest end-of-life platform on the internet.
EncorEstate Plans – not yet launched, the second generation of Helios Plans. Helios shut down operations this year and the staff are moving forward with creating EncorEstate Plans for advisors. They are advertising a price of $550 for Trust packages for clients of advisors.
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 – As of our last review, this was an app for estate planning. We questioned whether people would estate plan on an app. Well, we cannot find the app anymore, but the website is still live, and you can do a Will for free. A “Premium” Trust can be done for $99.
eState Planning (Epic Services Company) – A digital estate planning company who offers estate planning services for individuals and financial advisors. The company also offers a digital vault as part of their service. This seems to be a popular offering for advisors looking to add estate planning to their suite of services.
No longer in service
As of our last blog, a few of the offerings are no longer available. Helios Plans has shut down operations. Apprise Labs was acquired by Money Guide Pro and is being included in the Money Guide Pro software offering. Everplans was also acquired and while a consumer can still use the platform, it appears it is no longer available to professionals.
We hope you find this review helpful in your practice. This blog is not intended as an endorsement of any platform. It is also not intended to promote our own service. We provide this guide so that professionals can easily search for software and match a solution to their needs. If there is a solution that we missed or something you would like added, please let us know. We can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
1Indicates integration partner with Yourefolio