Technology—Probate provides information on current technology and microcomputer software of interest in the trust and estate planning areas. The editors of Probate & Property welcome information and suggestions from readers.
I am the new editor of Technology—Probate. Dan Evans and Jason Havens will be tough acts to follow. “Editor” means that I need reader input, suggestions for topics, and volunteers to write columns, comments, and reviews. My greatest joy would be to add a “Guest Editor” heading to subsequent editions of Technology—Probate.
Structure of This Column
This issue focuses on our very own RPTE web site and committee pages.
In future issues, I plan to address discussion lists, such as ABA-PTL and ABA-TAX (as much as RPTE members try to preclude them, they deal in death and can not avoid taxes), hardware solutions, such as dual monitors and All-In-Ones (AIOs), and software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS) and Adobe Acrobat. I welcome input from readers on these topics and suggestions for others.
The RPTE Section home page address is www.abanet.org/rpte/home.html, and the site contains a wealth of information, including FAQs, Section information and resources, current and back issues of Section publications, and group and committee materials that are not limited to presentations at Section CLE meetings.
Technically speaking, the first level is abanet.org, the American Bar Association domain, but loyalty and practicality promote the Section’s home page to level 1. At the top left of the home page (just above the Section’s logo) is a box labeled “Search” and immediately to its right, a box with either “Web Site” or “This Entity” inside. “Web Site” refers to the entire “abanet.org” domain, while “This Entity” refers only to RPTE’s web pages. To search RPTE Section material, stay with “This Entity.” Otherwise the search will run throughout the entire ABA domain, and you will be swamped with results from every section of the ABA. Add an RPTE site “Search” to your favorites, because a Google search produces too broad a spectrum of results.
On the right side of the home page, below the Section logo and introductory header, in a box titled “What’s New” are cover images of Section periodicals and books that also link to those publications’ pages. Click on any image and you will be taken to that periodical’s current issue or to the newest books published by the Section. To find periodical back issues, see the discussion below under “Publications.” Clicking on the link “More Publications” (immediately below the cover images) takes you to links on the Section’s publications page.
In the center of the home page is a list of “Upcoming Meetings and Events” and, further down, “Recent Government Submissions and Reports” and “RPTE News.” All three are self-explanatory.
The navigation bars on the left side of the home page list links to “Membership,” “Calendar,” “CLE,” “Committees,” “Publications,” “Resources,” “Leadership,” and “FAQs” (“Estate Planning FAQs” and “Real Estate FAQs”). These links are to RPTE level 2 pages where the real wealth of Section information resides. Click on a navigation bar to go to the next level. Levels 3 and 4 are home pages for the Section’s various groups and committees and current and back issues of the eReport, Probate & Property, the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal, and the ABA Real Estate Quarterly Report.
Many level 2, level 3, and level 4 pages contain more content than one full screen. To facilitate navigation, a “Quick Links” and/or “Related Pages” box(es) appear on the right side of that level, which will take you quickly to appropriate areas of the page.
“Publications” takes you directly to the Section’s publications pages— Probate & Property, the eReport, RPTE Journal, issues of Probate & Property back to 1995, issues of the RPTE Journal back to 1991, and to the latest books published by the Real Property (RP) and Trust and Estate (TE) Divisions.
“FAQs” links you to frequently asked questions about RP and TE topics. The FAQs are well worth reading and may provide answers to your clients’ questions and sources to which you may wish to refer.
This link is a gold mine, containing program materials from the Section’s CLE meetings back through 2002. If nothing else convinces you of the sophistication and detail of papers prepared by RPTE members and the breadth of discussions, a review of these program materials will do so. If you can find an article on a question you are researching, your research can stop right there.
“Committees” links you to groups (level 2) and then to committees (level 3) of the particular group, all of which provide a wealth of additional information.
The Section’s Standing Committee on Technology recently reviewed various committee sites for its annual awards presented to the committee sites from each Division judged to be this year’s best. I can make no better recommendation than to suggest you view the finalists for TE: (1) the Uniform Acts for Trust and Estate Law Committee of the Wealth and Non-Tax Estate Planning Group, (2) the Estate & Gift Tax Committee of the Income and Transfer Tax Planning Group, (3) the Bioethics Committee of the Elder Law, Disability Planning and Bioethics Group, and (4) the Charitable Planning Committee of the Charitable Planning and Organizations Group.
You will be amazed at what information is available. For example, if you want to consider the ramifications of the recent Supreme Court case of Knight v. Commissioner and its interpretation of the 2% limit of Code § 67(e), go to the Income and Transfer Tax Planning Group and view the right side of its page for the Court’s decision, briefs, transcripts of oral arguments, and the RPTE and Tax Sections joint letter on Code § 67(e).
One of the most interesting resources is “Resource Links” under “Legal Information,” which lists links to numerous sites of interest to RP and TE members and is a product of not only the Technology Committee but also various groups and their committees. This resource is updated regularly, so review the site periodically. But because the Internet is such a moving target, don’t be surprised if you come across an outdated link or two.
“Deeds Preparation List”You’ll find the “Deeds Preparation List” under “Legal Information.” This is a list of RPTE members who will prepare (for a modicum of charge) deeds in their respective states. Also included is a compilation of issues regarding deed preparation engagements. It is also a veritable “Who’s Who” of active participants in RPTE and a great place for referrals to out-of-state lawyers.
I cannot recommend more strongly the rewards of joining a committee. The number and variety of committees are such that at least one will address an area of special interest to you. Visit www.abanet.org/committee_join/ocj_join.cfm?comm=RP for the direct route to join a committee. Or follow the links through the Section’s home page. Go to the Section’s home page, log in as a member of the Section, click on “Committees” on the left side to go to the “Committees” page, and then click on “Join a Committee or Group today.”
Please provide input and suggestions/recommendations on specific subjects, hardware or software, and web sites and discussion lists that you would like to read about in future columns. For example, do you have recommendations for “sync” programs, that is, programs that easily maintain corresponding files on a desktop and laptop?
I am too much of a pusillanimous pussy-footer to address the iPhone vs. Blackberry competition. But I do plan to address small footprint desktop, multifunction “All-In-One” (AIO) machines on your desk—even if you have an IT department or dedicated scanning systems. An AIO is a combination scanner, copier, and printer (and even facsimile) machine that is especially productive if you have a home office, but my focus will be on the scanner part (the best route for starting down the path to the elusive “paperless office”). Having a copier and printer close at hand is an obvious benefit, but the small footprint AIOs are not intended for heavy duty use.
Related software discussions will encompass optical character recognition (OCR) and PDF programs (not only Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional but also Word, WordPerfect X4, and PDF Converter Professional 5) and other programs in the Nuance portfolio (besides PDF Professional Converter 5)—OmniPage 16 and PaperPort.
Another area will be voice dictation equipment and my favorite program, Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS). Professional voice recognition software has really arrived. Having recently shattered the wrist of my writing hand in an ATV accident, I couldn’t have survived without DNS and VoiceTeach on both my laptop and my desktop. DNS 10 is being shipped and claims to be capable of listening at a conference and transcribing more than one speaker without any special training. We shall see.
I would appreciate hearing from anyone with comments on or experiences with DNS, Via Voice, Vista, or other voice recognition/dictation programs. I would also appreciate hearing from people who have experiences (bad or good) with the Nuance Corporation set of products.Return to Probate & Property Magazine