Estates & Wills & Trusts

Hull e-State Planner automates estate planning

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

Estate planning can be a complex undertaking, but a new tool developed by Toronto estate lawyer Ian Hull aims to make the process easier for lawyers and their clients.

The Hull e-State Planner is an interactive will planner that uses technology to streamline the collection of key information, he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

For the last 500 years, estate lawyers have used the same process for taking will instructions, says Hull, and with advances in technology, the time has come to automate it.

“I’ve been practising for more than 25 years, watching the problems that come out of the estate planning process. For example, I often used a whiteboard to give clients a better visual, but that has its limitations, and in many cases, clients left still not really understanding the full picture.

"We wanted to create a program that allows them to have more direct input and see the results of their decisions,” he says.

Rather than having a client meet at the lawyer’s office, the software facilitates a more mobile approach to estate planning, enabling lawyers to meet clients where it’s most convenient for them — at home, in the hospital or anywhere else, explains Hull, co-founding partner of Hull & Hull LLP.

Using a laptop or tablet computer, Hull says lawyers can input the relevant information, and the software automatically calculates net asset values, probate tax exposure and residue amounts.

“It creates a visual of the estate plan by graphically displaying the rough numbers, calculating the taxes and providing lawyers with cues on important issues. In the end, you’ve created a comprehensive will plan that preserves the data,” he says.

The program, which was developed using the highest level of encryption available, also offers a form of insurance for estate lawyers, Hull says.

“It’s an added layer of protection because it creates a comprehensive checklist and a solid record of the steps taken,” he says.

The product has been in beta testing for several months, and Hull says the feedback has been “extremely positive."

To help lawyers navigate the new tool, Hull & Hull has launched a YouTube tutorial that demonstrates how to use the software, along with a comprehensive user guide.

“In terms of adaptability, it takes a few minutes to figure out how it’s structured, but once you do, it’s easy to follow," he says.

The software is available for an introductory annual fee of $499 plus HST and will be updated on an ongoing basis.

“We’re already working on the next version, and as we receive feedback, will be making enhancements to reflect that,” Hull says.

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