Technology Probate provides information on current technology and microcomputer software of interest in the probate and estate planning areas. The editors of Probate & Property welcome information and suggestions from readers.
This month's column will not have a specific theme. Instead, I will serve up a smorgasbord of brief items on recent developments in probate technology.
A CD-ROM for Estate Tax Research
The March/April 1994 column described some CD-ROMs for tax research, and one publisher has now released a CD-ROM specifically designed for federal and state death tax planning. The Estate Planning Advisor from Research Institute of America contains materials on federal estate, gift and related tax income tax laws, as well as state inheritance tax laws. Research Institute of America, 90 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011-7696, (800) 431-9025.
Publicly traded stocks and bonds can be valued for federal estate and gift tax purposes through on-line information systems specifically designed for that purpose, as explained in the column on asset valuation in the July/August 1993 issue. One system that was not mentioned in that column was the Wallace Estate Pricing Service. This system is written using the Windows operating system and so has a very sophisticated user interface, making asset valuations quite easy to do. Wallace Estate Pricing Service, Inc., Suite 407, 6355 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91367, (800) 762-5468.
Another relatively new program for asset valuations is EZ Bond, from Jane Schuck & Associates, which values and calculates accrued interest on U.S. Saving Bonds. Jane Schuck & Associates, 3021-5 McNaughton Road, Columbia, SC 29223, (800) 694-7624.
Automated Will Drafting
Although this column has not addressed automated document drafting, this magazine published an article I wrote on that subject back in 1991 Automated Will and Trust Drafting, 5 Prob.&Prop.34 (Jan./Feb. 1991). The most significant drafting program published since that issue is the Wealth Transfer Planning system prepared by Jonathan G. Blattmachr and Daniel Hastings and published by The Technology Group using its General Counsel software. The system is intended to be very complete and can prepare some very complex and sophisticated documents. The Technology Group, Inc., Suite 2200, 36 South Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21201, (410) 576-2040.
Some other relatively new systems are:
EP Expert from Eidelman Associates, Suite 187, 317 S. Division, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, (800) 775-2786 (written by Microsoft Word for Windows).
FastDraft from Interactive Professional Software, Suite 806, 11 Piedmont Center, Atlanta, GA 30305, (800) 364-2419 (a document assembly system, available in both DOS and Windows versions, that includes a "beginning library of will and trust forms").
ProDoc Will Forms from Automated Legal Systems, Inc., 2117 Pat Booker Rd., Universal City, TX 78148, (800) 659-1973.
WillBuilder from Easy Soft, Inc., 475 Watchung Ave., Watchung, NJ 07060, (800) 905-7638.
Because of the continuing rapid growth of the Internet, the November/December 1995 column on the Internet needs a number of additions and corrections.
ABA-TAX List. The Section's Probate and Trust Law discussion list continues to be active, with more than 200 members. (To subscribe, send the e-mail message "subscribe ABA-PTL" to firstname.lastname@example.org.) The ABA's Tax Sections has also started a discussion list that might be of interest to members of this Section. To subscribe to the ABA-TAX list, send the e-mail message "subscribe ABA-TAX " to email@example.com. No subject is necessary, and do not include any signature line or other text in the message. You will receive back an e-mail message describing the list and providing other information about the list.
When this column was being written, the page included a couple of previously published newsletter articles (one of alternate fee arrangements for estate administration, and one on possible substantive provisions to be included in a will or trust drafting system), and a few links to other sites. However, the page should grow in the future and should become a useful reference for information on probate technology and probate practice management.
The Tax Interest Group of the Law Practice Management Section has also established a web page, at http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpdiv/tax.html, which may be of interest to Section members.
ACTEC. The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) recently put some pages on the web, at http://www.actec.org/. At the moment, the pages seem to be mostly about the structure and operations of ACTEC itself, with some pages or areas for ACTEC members only, and a small amount of introductory estate and trust information that appears to be oriented towards consumers.
Wills on the Web. Mark J. Welch, a California lawyer and an active member of this Section, has put together some web pages with a lot of information on estate planning in general and California procedures in particular. The site also includes a collection of pointers to more than 40 wills on the World Wide Web, including the wills of "actual dead people" like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, John Lennon, Richard M. Nixon, Warren Burger and Benjamin Franklin. See http://www.ca-probate.com/wills.htm.
Address Changes. Shortly after the November/December 1995 column was published, the Internal Revenue Service moved its web site (of course), which can now be found at http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/. The U.S. House of Representatives Interest Law Library has also moved, and the Trusts and Estates page is now at http://law.house.gov/112.htm.
New Automation Book
Shortly after this issue is published, the Section should be releasing my book on probate technology, Automating Your Estate Practice, which has been in development for many months. The book draws on many articles and columns I have written over the years for this magazine, but it also includes a lot of new and much more comprehensive material on how to automate an estate and trust practice. Subjects include how to decide which tasks to automate, how to select the most suitable software, and the ethical, economic and management issues that arise in automating a legal practice.
The book also will include what I believe is the most comprehensive list of estate practice software ever published. Watch for further information in this magazine and from the Section.
Daniel B. Evans
Probate & Property Magazine is published six times annually and is included in section members' annual dues.