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Estates & Wills & Trusts

New 'Atin Model' app digitizes taking will instructions: Hull

An in-house model designed to take will instructions is the basis for a new application available to lawyers by Toronto estate lawyer Ian Hull.

“I wanted to create an app that would make it easy for me to demonstrate what is called the Atin Model of how I take my will instructions,” says Hull, whose firm Hull & Hull LLP, developed Hull e-State Planner. “I wanted to digitize that process.”

The model was developed by Jordan Atin counsel for Hull & Hull. It is premised on the concept that clients need to consider just two ways of making gifts in wills: absolute gifts with no strings attached and trusts. The latter approach is used when the client wants to exert some control over the distribution of the gift, Hull explains.

And it applies a systematic structure for planning wills that reflects three scenarios: if the spouse survives, if the spouse predeceases, if there is no spouse.

Each of those scenarios further break down into joint and designated assets, specific gifts and residue gifts.

A favourite for Hull is explaining the process on a whiteboard for clients. And it was that visual element that he wanted to include in the new, digital product which is an interactive will-planning application for lawyers in advising their clients and confirming instructions.

“What we’ve tried to do is incorporate a more visual approach so the client and lawyer work together on crafting the estate plan. It comes out of a process that we used — just working this all out on a whiteboard, describing how everything would unfold,” says Hull. “We decided to incorporate it into a visualizing planning tool that would literally be in your app.

“Many people generally work around the same processes, it’s just that what we’ve done is streamlined and simplified it using the model and the app itself,” says Hull.

And the key to any good estate plan, he adds, is intake.

By using the Atin Model as the basis of the app, Hull says he was able to create a lawyer-directed, organized approach to will planning.

But Hull says it also provides prompts to ensure all the bases are covered and additional information is included.

“I needed to create an app that would put a comprehensive package together to document the client instructions so that it protects me, the will drafting lawyer, down the road. And that I carefully considered all the issues and I have a full record of that,” he says.

“It uses technology to streamline the collection of this key information. It automatically calculates net assets and values, and looks at probate tax and income tax considerations so the client knows what the bottom line is in terms of the outcome of the gifting," Hull notes.

“It really is a digital checklist as well, because it cues the lawyer as you go along to make sure you’ve identified the issues and thought about them and walked the client through it.”

The Hull e-State Planner became available April 1 and a one-year subscription is available for $499.

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