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Thomson West — Intuitive Estate Planner

From the June/July 2006 Review of
Estate Planning Systems

Intuitive Estate Planner (IEP) is designed from a lawyer’s point of view,
rather than from an accountant’s or financial planner’s perspective.
While many of the tools are the same as other packages reviewed, a greater emphasis
is placed on the legal aspects of ownership transfer, asset titling, wills and
other related topics. The latest version includes the addition of modeling for
financial planning, enhanced facility to enter distributions for individual
heirs, ability to calculate the consequence of sale of QPRT property, new state
tax adjustments, and other updates to reflect recent law changes.

Comprehensiveness, Reliability & Ease of Use — 4 Stars
The program’s simple, if somewhat outdated, user interface is quite easy
to use. The main screen has a drop-down menu system and a toolbar for basic
program functions. Once a client file is opened or created, a multi-tab data-entry
screen is displayed, with tabs for Client Data, Scenarios, Assets, Deductions,
Adjustments, Tax Choices and Calculations. Once a tab is clicked, there are
other sub-tabs that appear at the bottom of the data-entry window. For example,
on the Client Data tab, you will find sub-tabs for Client, Family, Other Heirs,
Distributions, Estate Assumptions and Financial Assumptions. I found this design
a bit unusual, but it does not significantly detract from program navigation.

Each screen is logically organized, with appropriate buttons for things like
adding family members, heirs and so forth. Asset categories follow IRS Form
706 (Estate and Generation Skipping Transfer Tax Return). For assets, deductions
and adjustments, you can enter totals directly at the prompts, and the program
will distribute them between spouses as tenants in common. Or you can place
the cursor on a schedule (Schedule A, Schedule B, etc.) and click the Worksheet
button to enter a detailed list of items, including ownership type, discount
percent, growth rate, location, basis, value and legacy designation. This provides
a lot of flexibility in the level of data you wish to enter. You can easily
put together a quick plan without all the details.

Calculations — 5 Stars
The Calculations tab is where all the entered data is finally summarized into
various analysis and report screens. The sub-tabs within Calculations are Scenario
Selection, Gifts & Growth, Deferred FET (Federal Estate Tax), Eligibility,
Tax Analysis, Inheritance, GST Analysis, Financial Analysis, Chart and Diagrams.
These items provide the primary output types that can be generated from the
program. Some of the tabs provide for additional sub-tabs. For example, Gifts
& Growth provides for Choices, Planned Gifts, Planned Sales and Charitable

Within these calculation options are the more esoteric areas of estate planning,
such as GRAT, GRUT, QPRT, SCIN, Private Annuity, IDIT, Charitable Gift Annuity,
Charitable Annuity Trust, Charitable Unitrust, and Charitable Lead Unitrust.
Similar to other items in the program, you can either enter the total directly
or select the Worksheet button to enter detailed information. A Utilities menu
provides a number of tools not found within the standard client data-entry screens.
The tools include FET calculator, FGT (Federal Gift Tax) calculator, standard
four-function calculator, life expectancy calculator, IRS Annuity or Life Interest
calculation, Private Annuity calculation, Present Value of Future Amount, Future
Value of Current Investment, Income in Respect of Decedent, Pension Value calculations,
and Amortization Schedule.

Customization, Flexibility & Features — 4 Stars
Intuitive Estate Planner is primarily a calculation engine, so it provides limited
flexibility in the overall setup and operation of the program. However, as mentioned
above, there is a good deal of flexibility in the level of detail that can be
entered throughout the program. The program also provides for entry and update
of current AFRs, federal interest rates, consumer price index values, state
tax rates and exemptions, and projected federal estate tax rates. Intuitive
Estate Planner also provides for import of securities valuation information
from EstateVal, a separate third-party program from Estate Valuations and Pricing
Systems, Inc.

Client Presentation Tools — 3 Stars
Intuitive Estate Planner provides a limited number of built-in reports that
can either be printed or previewed. Some of the screens have a Copy button that
let you copy the graph or diagram to clipboard, which can then be pasted into
any Windows word processing program. You can then press F1 to link to the supporting
Help text, which offers further topic analysis. This text can also be copied
and pasted into the word processing document to produce a customized client
presentation. Another interesting feature of Intuitive Estate Planner is a Slides
feature. These are slide presentations of topics such as Community Property,
Common Law States, Living Trusts, Taxes and Costs, Family Limited Partnerships,
Leveraged Gift Techniques, Charitable Planning and Planned Sales Techniques.
The built-in slide shows can also be modified and customized with your own material
to provide high-quality educational client presentations.

Company History, Support & Help — 5 Stars
West has been part of Thomson since 1996, and now forms part of the Thomson
Legal & Regulatory market group. Founded in 1872, West has a long history
in the legal market, including its Westlaw online legal research service. The
company has many different product offerings for the law profession, such as
Elite, Law Manager, ProLaw, Timesolv and West km. The Help system provided within
this program is thorough and easy to use. A nice multimedia tutorial is also
included to help new users get a quick start with the basics of program navigation,
data entry and reports.

Relative Value — 4 Stars
Priced at $895, Intuitive Estate Planner is an attractive package, particularly
for law offices that are already familiar with West’s legal resource libraries.
While the interface seems a bit dated and awkward in places, it is an easy program
to learn and provides the tools needed for an effective estate planning practice.
The program is solid and receives regular updates from a company that has a
long-standing reputation in the field.

2006 Overall Rating: 4 Stars