Why consider looking for forms on the Web? Trusts and estates practitioners all have (or should have) carefully crafted office forms and drafting systems and a library full of form books and forms included in texts. Sometimes, however, drafting needs arise that are not covered by these forms, or you may want to look for updated language or a different perspective on the issues your forms address. There are numerous websites with trusts-and estates-related drafting forms and drafting advice, both for free and for a fee. You should, of course, shop for such forms with the same care you apply to evaluating any other products you use in your practice.

Example: your new clients Harry and Heather Hobbyhorse inform you that, among other enterprises, they own a number of fine Arabian horses and are concerned that these animals receive the best of care, if they are orphaned by the deaths of Harry and Heather. Not having encountered this type of situation before, where do you start? You might begin on your favorite search engine by entering “estate planning for animals” (for more results, type this in without quotes). This search will reveal Professor Gerry Beyers’ website Estate Planning for Pet Owners. Click on “Sample Provisions” for forms and drafting suggestions and click on “ Estate Planning for Non-Human Family Members” for his article by that title.

A search for “equine law” or “horse law” will turn up the University of Vermont Equine Law and Safety site. This site includes Professor Robert O. Dawson’s “Dear, What Will Become of Ol’ Dobbin After We’ve Gone?,” which offers further drafting suggestions.

Your search also will reveal The Animal Legal & Historical Center at Michigan State University, DCL College of Law, which includes a quick overview of the Uniform Trust Code Section 408 trust for care of animals. This site features links to online articles and websites on estate planning for pets, pet custody and a table of legislation. It also references the Estate Planning for Pets website, which links to legal resources and sample documents.

Special Estate-Planning Forms

At the beginning of your client relationship, you may want to turn to the definitive treatment of engagement letters in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel paper “Engagement Letters: A Guide for Practitioners.” It includes checklists and forms for representation of family members and fiduciaries.

ALI/ABA offers fee-based, searchable Direct-to-Desktop Forms. ALI/ABA offerings of forms and discussions also include the Ethical Problems in Estate Planning Checklist, Elder Law Incapacity Planning, Estate Planning for the Vacation Residence, and the Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust Checklist.

FindForms.com offers fee-based living will forms for various states.

U. S. Legal Forms has comprehensive fee-based living will, advanced directive, and medical and financial power of attorney forms for all states.

On a more exotic note, Apostille assists in the preparation of corporate and personal documents intended for foreign countries, including translation and authentication and powers of attorney.

Will and Trust Provisions

Capital Trust Company of Delaware website includes forms for a variety of trust clauses for free.

The ATG Trust Company provides a forms library without charge, including estate-planning forms, in PDF and Word formats.

The comprehensive Northern Trust Corporation Will and Trust Forms are available online for an annual fee. At “Account Access” click on “Will & Trust Forms” for a description of this product. Subscribers may download forms or create will and trust documents by selecting provisions and entering variables. Summaries of the forms and suggested best practices for the use of each form are included.

Business Practice Forms

Alberty Publishing offers fee-based limited liability company forms dealing with the creation, operation, transfer, reorganization and termination of an LLC, including LLC operating agreements in Word or RTF formats.

AllBusiness sells a variety of forms for business start-ups including forms for incorporation, partnerships and LLCs.

National LawForms provides fee-based forms and document-assembly software on corporations, partnerships and LLCs. It also offers HIPPA estate-document software.

Charitable Trust Forms

In addition to the charitable trust forms included on websites mentioned above, these sites direct themselves specifically to drafting for planned giving:

  • The Planned Giving Design Center (free, but registration required) has sample charitable gift forms, including the Kallina & Associates, LLP, charitable trust forms.
  • Emanual Kallina’s CharitablePlanning.com website plans to go live on Jan. 1, 2007. It will include updated charitable trust forms and is intended to integrate charitable giving, estate planning and financial planning resources in a comprehensive manner.

Client Information Forms

A number of websites include presentations, slide shows and forms for informing clients about various estate planning tools and techniques. One of the most comprehensive is the Capital Trust of Delaware site. It offers many PDF and Word summaries -- on basic and advanced estate planning techniques, including helpful diagrams, useful for client explanations -- and PowerPoint presentations on many estate planning topics and techniques.

Planned Giving Answers Online from Michigan State University offers client information for planned giving and planned giving techniques (in help file format). It includes graphic diagrams of various charitable giving devices and techniques.

The Bottom Line

A variety of websites provide forms at your fingertips. Some offer specialized forms that may not be readily accessible elsewhere and others provide comprehensive forms for will and trust drafting needs. There is a wealth of resources available, and they are well-worth checking out.

Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley -- a respected connoisseur of 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 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 dhkelley@qwest.net

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