The Internet furnishes a plethora of resources useful in the Trusts and Estates Practice. Available from various government and private websites are Tax forms, legal research and even computational programs. Particularly with the fast access speeds now available, you can treat the vast resources of the internet as a full time part of your Windows desktop, just as you use installed programs. Many services provide information and valuation that is useful both for tax and inheritance purposes. Some of the references in the Tech Review Trusts And Estates Resources On The Internetare updated in this article.
Search for heirs and division among heirs
IGS International Genealogical Search Incincludes Search for Heirs and Beneficiaries, Quiet Title Search, Due Diligence Search, Witness to Will Search and Heirs of Wrongful Death Search. Non-percentage based fees and guaranteed results. An informative Brochureis available.
Solomon Shareis a service for assisting in working out equitable shares among estate heirs. Developed as a system to divide up property not readily divisible among heirs, it involves appraisal of estate items and a conference of persons involved in the estate, followed by a bid process. This service is discussed in Host & Reynolds, Super-Fair Estate Allocation, 24 Probate Practice Reporter 1 (Oct. 2012).
Client information and training resources
Pioneer Hybrids and the Farm Journal have combined on creation of the Legacy Project at www.agweb.com/legacyproject. For a fee this website provides farm and ranch owner/operators with a step by step analysis of succession planning. This service would be also suitable for non-farm businesses.
Another helpful source of estate planning information to share with farm and ranch clients is Planning Your Farm (Rolling Hills RC&D Council). It addresses the risks in farm transfers, family communication, goals and objectives, evaluating farm resources, farm estate planning and transfer tools, preparing and maintaining estate planning documents and working with professional advisors.
Title services & deed preparation
Property Shark furnishes Property title searches. It mines public data sources for property records and combines the information with proprietary data for a comprehensive collection of online property records. You can find deeds, mortgage files, air rights, lease agreements, property ownership records and more.
AFX Title Search.com provides comprehensive, fee-based property title searches.
U.S. Deeds may be contacted for deed preparation and recording in various states. It also prepares related deed transfer forms.
Deed Pro does deed preparation in all states, along with specialty document preparation (affidavits, powers of attorney, etc.). It also provides state and county filing forms.
The American Bar Association maintains a list of attorneys available for State Deed Preparations, including a discussion of deed preparation issues.
LexisNexis provides real time access to publicly available court documents.
Court Filings may be made through One Legal Online Court Services.
LexisNexis File & Serve provides electronic court filing.
The electronic availability of probate forms and the functionality of software or web-based estate administration systems is examined in Havens, ”Automate Your Probate Practice,” 21 Probate & Property (Mar/Apr 2007 -- membership required).
There are a variety of state probate forms and systems available on the internet. An example is the Nebraska Probate System, from Basha Systems LLC, constructed on the GhostFill document assembly platform. AvidLaw furnishes an Arizona probate system.
FindLegalForms.com is an online form provider with a library of free legal forms. Their library includes forms for business, entertainment, family, intellectual property, etc. Many forms include instructions and helpful checklists. There are no required registrations or charges for downloading forms.
ALI CLE subscription forms
Estate Planning Forms Library offers a wide variety of fee-based forms.
Forms may be created through the Docubank online service of Advance Choice, Inc. for storage and with quick access to living wills and advance directives
IRS forms and publications are available in PDF format.
IRS Fill in Forms, including estate and gift tax returns, may be filled in online or saved in PDF format and filled in with Acrobat Reader:
The searchable text of IRS Publication 78 lists all of the qualified Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) exempt organizations and is located at www.irs.ustreas.gov/prod/search/eosearch.html.
Another Web site with links to published IRS Rulings and Revenue Procedures is TaxLinks.
Sources for state tax forms and instructions, including state estate and inheritance tax returns may be reached from Federation of Tax Administrators.
Chattel & bond appraisals
The following services provide information and valuations for vehicles, aircraft, electronic equipment and other chattel:
- The Kelley Blue Book offers retail prices and values of used cars and trucks back to 1993. It also provides values for dirt, street and other motorcycles, personal watercraft and snowmobiles. It includes 40 + MPG vehicles as a special category. It now includes interactive apps for mobile devices.
- Edmunds.com and NADA Guides also furnish used car appraisals.
- UsedPrice.com (The Orion Blue Book Online) offers appraisals for various kinds of cell phones, electronic equipment, copiers, cameras, power tools, musical instruments, guns, vintage guitars, collectibles and other chattels. For the cost of valuations, click on “Blue Book Packages.”
- The Aircraft Blue Book provides fee-based access to the Aircraft Blue Book online database and provides valuation information for all types of business and general aviation aircraft. A demo is available that reflects aircraft appraisal methodology.
- The Hemmings Collectible Vehicle Guide provides the online Hagerty Valuation Tools for collector car values. It lists the values of collectible, luxury, exotic and high-line cars and trucks.
- The free Bureau of Public Debt Savings Bond Wizard is Windows software for the inventorying and valuation of United States Savings Bonds.
- A more full featured facility for savings bond valuation is SavingsBonds.com, which includes forms and information on bonds. You may upgrade and import bond entries from the Wizard.
Resources for valuation of collectibles, coins & antiques
The listed software and services provide assistance and information in value research and the valuation of collectibles and other chattel property:
- Liberty Street Software offers inventory, tracking and valuation software for coins (US, UK, Canada), currency (US, Canada) and stamps (US and others).
- Anglo American Appraisal Services Inc offers fair market value appraisals of fine art, stamps, coins, jewelry and other collectibles.
- The Coin Collector's Assistant (with values) provides software with United States coin and currency databases, including values.
- Collectics Web Valuations provides online appraisals for antiques and collectibles and its Antiques and Collectibles Bookstore provides a variety of collector books and price guides.
- Maloney’s Antiques and Collectibles Resource Directory offers current listings for appraisers, dealers, experts, auctioneers, repair specialists and other resources in many categories of antiques and collectibles.
- PriceMiner provides an online price guide for art, antiques and collectibles. It offers historical price data, including price range, category type, sale date and data source. Search and analysis demos are available.
- The Beckett Baseball Online Price Guide provides pricing and certified appraisals for Baseball cards.
- Conventional, fee-based appraisals of antiques and art objects are available from Sotheby’s valuation services, and their Trusts and Estates services provides valuation and disposition services for estate assets. Christie’s Estates, Appraisals and Valuations Services provides appraisals for IRS purposes, including the Art Advisory Panel.
The Bottom Line:
The number of websites offering access to primary, and derivative, estate and trust related materials and services continues to grow. The convenience of being able to reach these facilities online may significantly enhance the speed and accuracy with which you can address the tasks associated with your trusts and estates practice.