From the June/July 2008 Review of Estate Planning Systems
The American Dream Planner PRO is an estate and financial planning system for professional advisors who provide service to multiple clients, offering extensive Monte Carlo-style “what-if” scenario building tools for analyzing all aspects of a client’s wealth and the effects or potential effects of certain actions upon future wealth and taxation issues. The system provides users with side-by-side views of plans with advanced graphical output options for client deliverables, and also includes user dashboards that display data input and results in the same window. A feature unique to American Dream Planner is the inclusion of a secure data sharing platform that enables all of the financial professionals involved with a client (accountant, CFP, attorney, bank, trust officers) to interact with the client and with each other regarding the client’s data.
Pricing for American Dream Planner PRO is based on the number of clients supported, with a 10-client version costing $449 and a 50-client system available for $799. The vendor also offers the software in a Personal Edition for individual users, and provides links to professional financial advisors on its website.
Ease of Use/Basic Functionality -- 5 Stars
American Dream Planner was initially designed as a personal finance application for use directly by individuals, but has since expanded into a professional system. Because of its initial consumer background, the product has a masterfully designed interface that retains excellent ease-of-use and functionality, while also meeting the needs of professional users. The system opens into the client selection list, which initially includes sample data, and provides multiple columnar sorting options, as well as a list filtering option.
Within client files, American Dream Planner’s interface offers a dashboard view that provides data input in a panel on the left, with graphical elements like pie and line charts and graphs in the output panels on the left. Users can easily select between several output options using pull-down selection menus for Pie Charts, Line Charts, Bar Charts and Tables. As data is entered, all calculations are automatically performed and the graphical elements and summary information is instantly refreshed.
This primary interface also includes tabbed access to various system features across the top of the screen, including Scenario Maintenance, individual planning settings (which spouse survives the other, if applicable), client Plans, No Plan, Tables, Comparisons and the ability to extend 2001, 2009 and 2010 codes. Traditional Windows pull-down menus are also offered. The data input panel provides tabs for jumping between more than a dozen categories, including General Information, Goals, Risk Tolerance, Investments, Income, Expenses, Real Property, Business and other options. Each of these selections provides additional subtopics for specific data types. An unlimited number of scenarios can be saved per client, with the ability to view up to three at one time.
Calculations -- 4 Stars
American Dream Planner includes a broad selection of built-in calculators for planning specific events like business costs, cash flow, ROI, business sale, break-even and business investors, as well as personal and family goals, with a college expense calculator, IRS withholding, expenses, SSI benefits and economic inflation estimations. The program can be used to plan for state and federal inheritance and estate taxes and offers tools for planning wealth transfer, including establishment of family and individual trusts and charitable giving.
Client Presentation Tools -- 5 Stars
American Dream Planner provides outstanding reporting and presentation options with extensive graphical output that includes line and bar charts and graphs, as well as financial statements, plan projections and scenario comparisons. The system enables export of reports into PDF or Excel formats, as well as into Crystal Reports for further data manipulation and formatting. Through its data sharing capabilities, users can share data files with other users of the system through the encrypted system.
Help, Support & Training Options -- 4.5 Stars
American Dream Planner includes a traditional Help utility, along with additional options like right-click menus and assistive features. The company’s website also offers dozens of tutorials, a collection of MP3 audio files, an online user’s manual and downloadable program updates. Technical support is included in program pricing.
Relative Value -- 4.5 Stars
American Dream Planner offers an innovative and advanced financial planning application that provides great tools for professionals who serve clients in preparing for retirement and wealth retention and growth strategies. The system is best suited to developing financial planning but also offers functionality geared toward trust and estate dissolution techniques.
2008 Overall Rating: