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Probate & Property

[Note: This column was originally published by the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the American Bar Association in Probate & Property, Vol. 12, No. 2 (March/April 1998).]

Windows Software for Estate and Trusts

By Daniel B. Evans, Technology-Probate Editor

My last column discussed the advantages of Windows software for estate lawyers. This column will describe four Windows programs designed for estate planning: EPLAN 6.0 from U.S. Trust Company; Intuitive Estate Planner from West Group; Leimberg's Estate Planning QuickView '98 from Leimberg and LeClair, Inc.; and Vista 2.0 from ViewPlan, a division of CCH, Inc.

A disclosure note: I helped de-velop one the programs described below and have a financial interest in it. Therefore, this column presents descriptions of the purposes and functions of these programs without discussing the relative advantages or disadvantages of competing software programs for particular users.

One of the advantages of the Windows environment is the ability to display and print graphic images. All of these programs can perform estate tax calculations and also illustrate different estate plans through graphs and flow charts. These visuals are helpful in providing clients with explanations of relative tax liabilities and how assets pass between and among estates, trusts and beneficiaries.

EPLAN 6.0 is the new Windows version of a DOS program first released in 1985. Like the earlier versions, the Windows version allows the entry of considerable detail. For example, it can include up to 150 different assets and liabilities, each with a separate growth rate and separately identified as taxable, commissionable or liquid; up to 99 different individuals or charities as beneficiaries of the estate plan; and up to 99 different trusts to hold or receive property.

The user can create up to eight alternative estate plans (or "sce- narios") with different assets and liabilities, tax consequences and dispositive schemes. The scenarios can include one of seven different marital deduction formulas, a choice of using administration expenses as either income tax or estate tax deductions, applying growth rates to selected assets and liabilities and changing both the dates and projected order of deaths of the spouses.

The program can calculate federal estate tax calculations and interrelated marital and charitable deduction calculations; the charitable deduction for split-interest trusts; the estate tax consequences of the death of the grantor during the term of a GRIT, GRAT or GRUT; apportionment of death taxes among trusts or beneficiaries on an incremental or average rate basis; administration expenses; generation-skipping transfer tax; and the credit for tax on prior transfers.

EPLAN can print detailed and summary asset and liability lists, tax analysis, disposition reports, receipts by beneficiary, liquidity analysis, estate tax deferral schedule and disposition matrix.

Graphic reports include flow charts in a lineal column format, showing who receives how much and from whom; pie charts showing breakdowns of each estate by asset category; and bar graphs showing comparative dollar and percentage amounts received by beneficiaries.

Intuitive Estate Planner
Intuitive Estate Planner is a new program from the West Group.

It is designed to help identify the pres-ent ownership and estate tax consequences of different assets, display the effect of the estate tax in both tabular and graphic form and plan and demonstrate estate tax techniques for the client. The program allows the user to define any number of different scenarios, each with specific assets, deductions and tax adjustments and choices. The asset and deduction information is arranged according to the schedules used on a Form 706. Itemized asset information can be entered for each schedule through worksheets that allow the user to specify the name and value of the asset; growth and discount rates; whether the asset is the client's, the spouse's, community or joint; whether the asset is liquid; and whether the asset might be specifically bequeathed to the surviving spouse, charity or some other beneficiary. Similarly, life insurance and annuities can be payable to the surviving spouse or other beneficiaries.

Each scenario also includes choices for the marital deduction as well as generation skipping. The marital deduction can be based on a fixed amount to the "credit legacy," a percentage of the probate estate or a fixed amount to the spouse. The marital gift can be payable outright or in trust. The user can select how the tax burden is allocated among different legacies. Finally, there can be adjustments for adjusted taxable gifts, gift taxes payable, property previously taxed, foreign tax credits and the amount of any state death tax that might be payable.

The results of calculations under the different scenarios can be viewed in flow chart form, in bar charts or in tables with the detailed calculations (and results of calculations) in columns. Each data screen can be printed, along with each set of cal-culations, flow charts and graphs. The program also allows the user to create a "slide show" of charts and graphics and explanations of estate planning techniques for the client.

Leimberg's Estate Planning
QuickView '98

Leimberg's Estate Planning QuickView '98 is designed to provide quick views of common estate plans and the federal and state death tax consequences of those plans through flow charts and graphs.

Clients' names and most asset information can be entered on a single screen, and with a couple of mouse clicks one can display any of several preprogrammed estate plans in flow chart form. The asset information is summarized into separate and joint assets (whether passing through probate or by revocable trust), life insurance and retirement plans. An assumed growth rate can be entered, along with the years in which the deaths might occur, to project future estate values and changes in tax credits and rates. Values may be entered net of debts and taxes or as gross values with debts and ex-penses entered as dollar amounts, percentages or both. The program automatically estimates state death taxes for states that impose death taxes independent of the state death tax credit. Any additional data that might be needed is requested through a separate data entry screen.

QuickView uses different flow charts to illustrate simple estate plans (all or none to the surviving spouse), as well as unified credit trusts with and without marital trusts, and the consequences of transferring life insurance out of estates through irrevocable trusts. The user can easily page through the different plans or reverse the order of deaths. The total taxes in both estates and net amounts passing to the heirs can be displayed in a summary chart or as pie or bar graphs. The program also accepts asset and life insurance information for gifts or trusts outside the gross estate, so the user can illustrate pres-ent and future values and compare the tax consequences of gifts and other assets that have been removed from the taxable estate.

The report generator allows the user to select the summaries, flow charts, graphs and a customized cover page to include in the printed report for the client. All data entered for each client is automatically saved under the client's name for later retrieval.

Vista 2.0
Vista is the Windows successor to ViewPlan's Estate Forecast Model, one of the first programs that could display estate plans in flow chart form. Vista performs federal estate tax and state death tax calculations, as well as showing liquidity needs and the possible application of  6166 and 303.

The program saves and retrieves client data as "cases" and has 10 categories of information for each case: Personal Info, Primary Assets, Growth/Admin Info, Life Insurance, Federal Prior Gifts, Discounts, Cash Needs, State Death Tax Info, Existing Gift Trust and New Gifts. "Primary Asset" information is divided into total values for growth and no-growth assets held by the husband or wife or co-owned, assets passing under the will or revocable trust and assets passing directly to the surviving spouse (such as a co-owned residence). The Primary Asset window also allows for data entry for liabilities and liquidity.

Vista allows the user to select from seven different scenarios, including all to spouse, "optimum" (unified credit) formula, none to spouse, fixed marital deduction, fixed bypass trust (before or after tax amounts) and fixed tax liability. The program provides flow chart views of each scenario and can also display graphs or spreadsheets illustrating three scenarios at once. The user can print each data entry screen or each estate planning scenario and chart immediately or add it to a "portfolio" of pages to be printed with a cover page, explanations and other materials.

Vendor Information

U.S. Trust Company of New York
114 West 47th St.
New York, NY 10036-1532
(212) 852-3564

QuickView '98
Leimberg & LeClair, Inc.
P.O. Box 1332
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
(610) 527-5216

Vista 2.0
ViewPlan, a Division of CCH, Inc.
2515 Camino Del Rio South, Ste. 312
San Diego, CA 92108
(800) 826-2127

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Daniel B. Evans, Attorney at Law
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Philadelphia, PA 19118
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