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: