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 ****

The Fore Trust Software, Virtual Estate Planning System (VEPS) is designed to be incorporated into your firm’s website. The publisher configures the server for your firm and furnishes pages to be added to your website. The client sees your firm’s VEPS page as part of your firm’s website and is seamlessly transferred to the VEPS server for an interview (see the sample registration page). It allows clients to directly enter their information and planning choices and produces a viewable draft will or revocable trust. When the client has completed the interview, you can review and edit the answers and then download the entire will or trust package to your computer for final processing. A client conference may then be arranged and final drafting of the will or trust can proceed. You may state a package fee for either individuals or couples on the web page.

After registration, the client receives an email with instructions for proceeding with the interview and an email with the client registration is sent to the attorney. When the client has completed the interview, the attorney is again notified by email.

The interview inquires about the client's estate planning requirements and is personalized based on the client's answers to prior questions. It provides the preliminary information needed to prepare a custom estate plan. The VEPS software, utilizing its built-in logic, creates a customized, state-specific will or revocable trust package, including the pour-over will and transfer documents for revocable trust plans. Both will and trust plans include a durable power of attorney, the actual state statutory authorized health care powers, a "living will" and burial instructions. You have the option to let the client select the type of plan or to confine the interview to either a will or a revocable living trust.

For a married couple (in either the will or trust package), the software automatically determines the correct type of trust, such as a simple trust, a disclaimer trust, an A/B trust or a qualified terminable interest property trust (including the qualified domestic trust provisions, if needed for a non-citizen spouse, and with state death tax provisions if the clients' state is decoupled). The documents prepared include:

· General durable power of attorney;
· Health care powers (including living will) which are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliant;
· Burial instructions;
· Distribution of personal property instruction form;
· Paragraph by paragraph explanation of the will/trust provisions; and
· Signing instructions.

For revocable living trusts, other documents included are:

· Pour-over will;
· Certification of trust;
· Declaration of trust;
· Assignment of personal property;
· Deed for residence (if needed);
· Deeds for other real property (if needed);
· Deeds for mineral/oil & gas interests (if needed);
· Letter of instructions for bank accounts (if needed);
· Letters of instruction for brokers, mutual funds and direct registration accounts (if needed);
· Stock powers and transmittal letters for stock certificates held by client (if needed);
· Letters of instruction for change of beneficiary for life insurance, individual retirement accounts and annuities (if needed);
· Assignments for business interests, general and limited partnerships, limited liability companies, notes and deeds of trusts, etc. (if needed); and
· Affidavit of death of joint tenant (if property is still held in joint tenancy with a deceased spouse).

Your client's password protected answers are stored on the publisher’s secured server for future access (and for easy integration with the publisher’s stand-alone software);

How Does It Work?

The client first encounters the registration page for the entry of basic client names and contact information. The client then proceeds to the estate planning interview. The steps asked of the client in the interview process for entry of information and planning choices include determining:

· The revocable trust or will package;
· Executors;
· Total estate value (the interview does not call for a detailed list of assets, which may be needed if a more complex estate plan proves necessary);
· Business and farm powers for executors and trustees;
· General distribution of estate;
· Distribution to other than spouse at first death;
· Distribution of estate property after the second death;
· Distribution of business/farm property;
· Allowances for a special needs child;
· Distribution after second death in trust or outright;
· When the general power of attorney will be effective.

The answers may be saved at any stage of the interview. The client may click on the “Show Interview Outline” icon at the top right of the screen to see a list of all interview topics from which clicking any heading takes the client directly to that topic for review or editing.

When the client has finished the interview, the client may click on the “Preview” icon at the upper right of the screen to see a representation of what the final documents, ready for editing, will look like. A button may be selected to indicate that the interview is complete. The client can return to the interview several times as needed to complete it. Then, when the client clicks “Finish”, the finished product will then be sent to you for final processing. You will receive an email indicating that the interview has been completed and containing a link to open the interview as an administrator. You are given additional screens and options not available to the client for further customization. As the attorney, you have an administration interface that lists all clients and gives you access to and control over their interview and registration including deletion, review of the answer file and the ability to download the estate-planning package.

The file is delivered to you for editing as a Word document and may then be processed as you choose. The information and choices furnished by the client may be integrated into the publisher’s stand-alone software for more detailed planning, if desired.

What About Help and Support?

A Help screen describing data entry alternatives is available from each interview screen and context sensitive help is also available.

Where Do You Get This Product?

The Virtual Estate Planning System has a one-time set-up fee of $299 when you subscribe to the VEPS program (including the necessary web pages), a $50 per month administrative fee and
a fee for each initial download (you are only charged once per client regardless of the number of actual downloads of the completed Package) of:
$95 each for the first 10 downloads per month;
$85 each for the next 10 downloads per month; and
$75 for each download thereafter.
VEPS is available from Fore! Trust Software at 1-888-563-1147 or by email through its contact page.

A free trial demo is available at the Virtual Estate Planning System web page.

Bottom Line
The Virtual Estate Planning System provides a unique tool for attracting estate planning clients to your firm that also allows you to obtain the basic client data and planning choices prior to an office meeting and produce a quick draft of all documents needed to address the client needs expressed in the interview. The follow-up conference for the new client is thus made much more efficient as you review the proposed estate plan and tailor it to the client’s needs.

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 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