Here’s the latest in automated will and trust drafting from WealthCounsel.
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 *****
On March 19, 2011, WealthCounsel released its latest version of the WealthDocx document assembly system. This review discusses the changes and enhancements added to the drafting options for wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, partnership agreements and limited liability company (LLC) operating agreements, since the Tech Review of this product on Nov. 11, 2009.
WealthDocx uses the HotDocs software application to run its document assembly process. After a client’s information and planning choices are entered through a question and answer process, it assembles the document being prepared and displays it in Microsoft Word.
Purchasers of the WealthDocx system automatically become members of WealthCounsel and get access to all its online resources, including educational materials, videos, list services, a legal support blog and a library of drafting and research resources.
Membership of WealthCounsel gives its members access to the password-protected area of its website, which includes online help for the purchased software.
What’s it all About?
WealthDocx Core Edition, which is one version of WealthDocx available for purchase, automates the drafting of client contact letters for intake and engagement, living trusts, living trust amendments, funding documentation, assignments of personal property, wills (simple and marital deduction), living wills, state statutory templates for living wills and powers of attorney and other documents. The Advanced Edition, which is another version for purchase, provides additional systems for business succession planning, LLCs, family limited partnerships (FLPs), charitable planning, irrevocable trust agreements, split-interest inter vivos trusts, lifetime qualified terminable interest property, supplemental needs trusts, retirement trusts and physicians modules. The publisher's comparison matrix facilitates further understanding of the differences between the Core, Advanced and Complete Editions.
WealthCounsel, like other publishers of similar products, has faced how to address drafting for potential future changes in the federal estate tax that affect marital deduction and credit trust design. In 2010, it added specific options to enable the drafter to address the possibility of repeal of the estate tax by allowing any amount to pass to the marital legacy, either an outright amount or a percentage and by eliminating a credit (or bypass) type trust.
New drafting provisions and resources added since the original release of Wealthdocx 7 in 2009 include:
- Provisions for non-traditional (unmarried) couples that provide for a non-tax related trust from one partner to the other that functions like a bypass trust.
- Drafting provisions are now available for same-gender married couples in the revocable living trust (can be done in a joint revocable trust but isn't recommended by the publisher), will, and irrevocable trust systems. A new field is available to select the gender of the spouse in the individual revocable trust as part of quasi-marital deduction planning. The program offers all the marital deduction planning for tax planning in states that recognize the marital union and in which a marital deduction is available for state estate tax planning. For federal and state tax planning in which marital deduction isn’t available, drafters may proceed using the options available from years in which there’s no federal estate tax.
- Improved functionality of names in the software. Previously names were entered as drafters went through the interview and were available on a dropdown list thereafter. The software can now import a list of names during the interview and retain those names even after the list is refreshed by operation of the software. The imported names will then be available for selection.
- The publisher advises that authorization for the executor to elect portability of the unified credit of the first spouse to die (as authorized by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010) is planned as an addition to the list of executor’s powers this summer.
- In the module 2 for inter vivos trusts, there's now an addition of an Internal Revenue Code Section 2503(c) minors' trust with options and a health and educational exclusion.
- Expansion of the LLC module that provides for LLC formation, funding, transfer and correspondence documents. Previously, the module created an LLC primarily directed to valuation adjustments and asset protection. The LLC generator has been completely remodeled to address general business practice LLC provisions. Additions include member-managed LLCs, LLCs for professionals, choices of tax elections and general business planning. The revised LLC agreement allows the drafter to choose any type of tax treatment to assist in tax planning and facilitates the creation of either member-managed or manager-managed LLCs including those in which the members or managers may be either individuals or entities.
- The ability to address the full non-corporate range of family business planning through the revised LLC module, together with the FLP module of WealthDocx and the included business succession planning system.
- The WealthDocx Installation screen now links to a demo by Lew Dymond, a WealthDocx YouTube video, sample trusts, testimonials from members, the installation guide, the user guide, the preference guide and frequently asked questions.
How It Works
The program requires Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista or Windows 7), Microsoft Word (2003 or later), the HotDocs Player (furnished with the program), Internet Explorer (7 or higher) and a high-speed Internet connection. Macros must be enabled in Microsoft Word for the assembly of WealthDocx documents.
The opening screen of WealthDocx features a left side navigation pane and information from the publisher’s website (including help screens) as you navigate through the program. News items will also appear in two smaller panes.
When a document is selected from the navigation pane, the HotDocs interview screen appears. The interview process takes drafters through a series of questions, compiling the information and decisions needed for the document being prepared.
Upgrades may be downloaded from the updates page of the Wealth Counsel website. When an upgrade is available, notification of it appears on the WealthDocx screen.
Help and Support
Help is context-based throughout the interviews. Brief explanations of each interview screen and the document provisions governed by that screen appear at the bottom. Notes on the legal effect of various document provisions appear where appropriate.
The program also links to help screens on the publisher’s website. Software support is available by phone or through a written online support request. The publisher states that legal and technical support has been “significantly improved.”
HotDocs help is included to assist the drafter in the creation of documents with the included HotDocs facility.
WealthDocxis available from:
PO Box 44403
Madison WI 53744-4403
Phone: (888) 659-4069
For pricing you may contact the publisher firstname.lastname@example.org, or 1-888-659-4069, extension 819. The publisher suggests that consultation with them to recommend the solution best suited for your practice.
Unlimited technical and legal support is provided at no additional charge.
The estate planning provisions of Wealthdocx 7 have been substantially updated to be more flexible. It has enhanced its LLC drafting module, which now enables you produce comprehensive business documents.
Other comprehensive will and trust drafting systems include:
Drafting Wills and Trust Agreements(ThomsonReuters) by Michael L.M. Jordan is a software program for the assembly of wills, revocable trusts and other documents.
Wealth Transfer Planning (Jonathan G. Blattmachr and Michael L. Graham) is a sophisticated automated drafting system for estate-planning documents.
Lawgic (Lawgic Publishing Company) is a state-specific program, available for N.Y., Md., Calif. (wills, marital settlement and pre/post marital agreements), Fla. and Ga. (wills, disability planning documents and a number of trusts).
Trust Plus (ThomsonReuters). This is a system that produces wills, revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts including trust funding documents and asset transfer letters.
Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Tech 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.