Kelley Rating (one asterisk = lowest, five asterisks = highest):
- Ease of navigation, design of interface and learning curve ******
- Instructional documentation and help system ***
- Carries out the goal of the product as advertised *****
- Overall usefulness *****
PT Manageris designed to facilitate the management and administration of trusts through communication, compliance, scheduling and reporting. It is intended for trust management institutions, but useful to others who administer trusts for private trustees, such as law firms. The program also is useful for family offices given the high degree of personal contact they have with family members.
- Reduces the time and effort required for administrative matters;
- provides quick access to biographical, historical, and financial account information;
- systemizes administrative procedures;
- tracks compliance matters;
- facilitates trust account audits;
- and furnishes a comprehensive report for annual account reviews.
Other programs facilitate trust inception, administration and termination, but not with the administrative focus of PT Manager.
Cowles Trust Terminator works through the details involved in trust termination. It generates correspondence and documents, and includes tracking tools to assist with obtaining asset information, creating an inventory of assets, and completing the final accounting and distribution.
EstateWorks, TrueSettlementis a web-based work-flow solution directed toward the process of administering estates. It manages cases and contacts, automates task assignments and due dates, and tracks tasks to completion—including sending standard letters and producing management reports.
Connect2A is a web-based data management service designed to gather, share and update clients’ personal and financial information for planning applications and periodic client reviews. The accumulated data may be applied during the planning, lifetime maintenance and after-death administration of clients’ estates. This service also tracks asset and beneficiary changes during the trust funding process.
AbacusLaw Estate Planning Special Edition provides practice management for estate planning, trusts and estate administration. It documents the initial client consultation, retainer agreement and information gathering. The software also assists with document drafting, document signing, asset transfers and trust funding.
SettlementCounsel software provides an automated solution for settling estates throughout the post-mortem planning process.
What’s It All About?
After PT Manager is installed and launched it presents a simple and easy to follow interface. According to the publisher, it functions with Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows XP and Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 6 or later. Microsoft Vista users should check with the publisher.
The publisher’s website includes a tour of the screen displays. The drop-down Edit menu, or Edit icon, allows you to add a new account or delete an existing account. Proceeding to Accounts from this menu presents a list of existing trust accounts by account number, name and Tax ID. Accounts may be sorted numerically or alphabetically by double clicking on a column header. You may search for an account from the account screen by the trust name, its number or by a group of letters in the trust name.
Opening an account presents an account information screen with 15 tabs representing the characteristics of the account. The default tab, Acct Profile, displays all of the identifying details of the account including the trust name, ID number, relevant dates, grantor data, trust administrator data, supervisory court data and links to amendments and related accounts. Clicking on the Edit button that appears on the screen allows information to be added or edited.
The account information screen keeps track of:
- Remittances and distributions
- Fee arrangements — frequency of and to what account charged
- Beneficiary data and contact information
- Investment objectives, allocation strategy, authority and powers
- Special assets, such as real estate
- Liabilities, security and repayment provisions
- The legal nature and context of the trust including termination, disposition and special powers
- Income tax information, including taxpayers, preparers, taxable year and delivery of tax data
- Trust related parties, including attorney(s)
- Other requirements, such as contact intervals and notes on contacts
- The grantor’s other relationships with the trustee institution
PT Manager also incorporates scanning technology. Documents, pictures, etc. can be scanned and attached to the buttons on various screens designated for this feature. The Acct Profile screen, for example, includes access to scanned and computer generated documents relating to the trust. These documents are categorized by Letters In, Letters Out and Other Documents. Documents may be easily added through the dialog box related to each of these categories.
A handy Notes screen is also included for miscellaneous notes and observations related to the trust administration.
A Calendar feature is included, on which trust activity may be recorded and future action dates entered. Actions entered into the account dialog for trusts that are the responsibility of the individual trust administrator appear on the calendar. Clicking on the action reference on a given date brings up a list of actions for that date and clicking on an action brings up its entry on the account dialog. An example of an action is the dates distributions are due.
The Relationship Manager screen allows the trust administrator to maintain a list of all individuals and firms, and their contact information, with whom the trustee maintains a relationship. The program includes a facility that lets you print mailing labels coded for various relationships for purposes such as public relations and advertising.
Past Due Items lists all actions of whatever type that have been entered at the account dialogs. Reminders allow the trust administrator to enter other actions or activities to be reminded of.
The Print command allows you to print from a detailed list of all types of trust data and actions. You select an item from the list displayed by clicking on Print to bring up a screen listing all trusts including that item. Click on the trust name to cause the program to compile the requested report and display it on the screen. From the report display you may print the report or export data in a variety of formats including PDF, Crystal Reports, delimited data files, Excel, Lotus, Rich Text Format, text, Word or XML.
The program may be installed on a computer network , allowing access from each workstation (with the destination folder set to the network location) to provide a centralized database for all users.
What About Help and Support?
The help file contains instructions for management of the program and operation of each component of the program. Context sensitive help calls from individual program components are not, however, available, although the publisher indicates that they will be in a later version. A comprehensive written manual is furnished with the product. The user gets unlimited telephone/email/computer control support for an annual fee, which is based on the number of accounts the user manages with the program.
Where Do You Get This Software?
This software is available through the publisher:
Compliance Information Systems, Inc.
P.O. Box 240185
Saint Paul, MN 55124
Toll Free: (877) 469-5517
Phone: (612) 867-1050
Fax: (952) 891-2826
The software has a base fee of $850 and an annual fee based on the number of accounts managed with the program.
PT Manager is an easy to use, but detailed, database of all the client data and operating information needed to manage the administration of multiple trusts.
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@example.com.