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 *****

ElderDocx is designed to automate assembly of documents an the elder law practice. It addresses Medicaid, VA documents, special needs matters and estate planning documents. 

ElderDocx is built on the WealthDocx document assembly system created by WealthCounsel and uses the HotDocs software application to run its document assembly process. After the client’s information, document selection and planning choices are entered through a series of interviews, it assembles the document being prepared and displays it in Microsoft Word. 

The ElderDocx system is included for members of ElderCounsel. Members are given access to the ElderCounsel online resources, including education courses and recordings, monthly webinars, online tutorials, course materials, list services, monthly state specific updates, free support for ElderDocx and access to the ElderCounsel Knowledge Base (that includes fair hearing decisions, links to state Medicaid manuals, sample forms, marketing PowerPoints and more). A demo of ElderDocx is available on the ElderCounsel website.

ElderCounsel maintains an online Marketplace that offers estate planning portfolios and tabs, courses on audio CD or download covering various Medicaid, VA, special needs planning and elder law subjects, as well as an area with links to other elder law practice resources.  ElderCounsel also furnishes the ElderCounselor newsletter for delivery to your clients that you may send yourself, or have ElderCounsel send for you.

Membership in ElderDocx gives you access to the password protected area of the ElderCounsel website, which includes online help for the purchased software. 

What’s It All About?

ElderDocx automates the drafting of Medicaid and VA asset protection letters, general client consultation letters, client questionnaires, fee agreements, caregiver documents, qualified income trusts, Medicaid and veterans asset protection trust documents, third-party supplemental needs trust documents, self-settled special needs trust documents, sole benefit trust documents, DRA-compliant promissory notes (including note calculator and amortization schedule), Medicaid GRATs (including annuity calculator), revocable trusts and companion wills, standalone wills, health care documents and durable financial power of attorney (including state powers of attorney for AK,CA,CO,GA,IL,MD,MN,NV,NY,OH,OK,TX and WI). 

ElderDocx includes the ECTransferCalc calculators for Medicaid DRA-compliant promissory notes, annuities and penalties with related reports. ECTransferCalc, and the more full featured ECTransferCalc Complete, may be purchased separately.

How Does It Work?

The program requires Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista or Windows 7), Microsoft Word (2003 or later–32 bit only, however) and the HotDocs Player 10.1 or later (furnished with the program). 

The opening screen displays a navigation pane on the left and a larger pane on the right side where you edit your documents. The navigation pane lists resources (including links to the ElderCounsel knowledge base, technical support on the ElderCounsel website, frequently asked questions, initiation of a support request and VA resources), preferences (attorney, notary and witness lists) and the templates that are used by the program in document preparation. You may check for updates to the program from the navigation pane. You may also access libraries that provide links to the Advisors Forum, ElderCounsel website, WealthCounsel website and WealthDox 7 Complete.

This screen also has a series of drop down menus with the usual file, edit and view capabilities, as well as a facility that allows you to customize the templates and a tool bar that gives you access to various drafting functions.

You initiate drafting by clicking on “MASTER INTERVIEW AND DOCUMENT ASSEMBLY” in the navigation pane. A dialog box appears from which you may choose a new answer file or an existing file and initiate an interview process. This dialog box presents a left side navigation pane and a right side interview pane. The interview asks you to select the state in which your plan is being created, enter the names of the parties involved (that appear in whatever document you are drafting) and select a set of documents to draft (including creation of mirrored spousal documents). 

You then proceed to information entry for the document set you have chosen. When you have completed the document interview, you may generate the document you chose and send it to Word. The information you enter includes, children, relationships other than children, contact information and biographical information,

After the information entry, you may select the type of documents you want to create and answer the questions in the interview pane. When you are finished with the interview you may preview your document or instruct the program to assemble the document. Mechanically you move through the interview dialog by clicking “Next” at the bottom of the dialog and “Finish” when you are completed.

What About Help and Support?

The ElderCounsel website includes tutorials for ElderDocx and step-by-step instructions for creating a new document, creating scenarios and understanding various components of the program.

Help is context based throughout the Interviews and is available by clicking on a question mark that appears at each prompt. The tool bar includes a “What’s This” pointer that allows you to get help on specific elements of the HotDocs interface. Hot Docs help is included to assist you in the creation of documents with the included Hot Docs facility.

You may submit a support request form the ElderCounsel website, send an email to support or call for telephone support. 

Where Do You Get This Software?

ElderDocx is available from ElderCounsel at:

888-789-9908 ext. 85 (toll free), 541-485-1567 (direct)

Email: john.shickich@eldercounsel.com

Website: http://www.eldercounsel.com

The price for ECTransferCalc, that includes the note, penalty and annuity calculators and reports, is $495 annually, and for ECTransferCalc Complete, that also includes the promissory note and client letter, is $995 annually. A 60 day trial is available.

Membership in ElderCounsel that includes Elderdocx and the ECTransferCalc calculators is priced at $3,000 for the initiation fee with monthly dues of $350. Discounts on the monthly dues are available to WealthCounsel members and NAELA members.

Unlimited technical and legal support is provided at no additional charge.

Bottom Line

ElderDocx provides comprehensive and efficient drafting and calculating tools for the Elder Law practice, and ElderCounsel membership provides broad support for the Elder Law practitioner.

Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Reviewby 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 dhkelley@qwestoffice.net.