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CCH Inc.’ CCH ViewPlan Advanced Estate Planning Software

CCH ViewPlan Advanced combines a
simple user interface with advanced
calculations to provide a deceptively
powerful planning engine. At first
glance, the main window contains
only limited options on a vertical
navigation toolbar docked at the
left side of the screen. Icons are
available for Clients, Estate Details,
Plans, Comparisons, and Presentations.
However, ViewPlan Advanced’s
muscle lies in its many detailed
data-entry screens and plan calculation

Comprehensivenss, Reliability & Ease of Use – 5 Stars
Once you’ve added basic client
information, you can begin entering
the client’s estate details.
These details include information
about beneficiaries and distributions,
client preferences, assets and liabilities,
general gifts, property transfers,
expenses, losses, prior gifts, generation
skipping tax (GST), cash needs,
and liquidity costs. A detailed
view or quick plan view lets you
select the level of detail you wish
to enter for each of the data input
items. As you click on each data
input category, an input screen
opens for that item type. For example,
clicking on Assets and Liabilities
opens a window that shows a list
of detailed assets and liabilities
that have been entered. You simply
click the Add button to begin entering
information about that specific

The information you supply on the
input screens depends on what type
of item you add. For example, a
Cash item allows you to enter the
description, asset value, ownership
(client, spouse, joint, or community
property), growth rate until first
death, and the growth rate after
first death. A Details button is
available where more information
may be entered regarding liquidation,
proceeds, liabilities, income, additions,
withdrawals, expenses, and gifts.
This layout and data-entry process
is very consistent and easy to follow
for all of the Estate Details screens.
The data-entry process can become
very detailed and involved. However,
the program lets you enter as much
or as little detail as desired.
Of course, more accurate results
will be obtained with more detailed

Calculations – 5 Stars

screens described above are a combination
of current data (assets, liabilities,
etc.) and planning techniques (gifts,
transfers, etc.). Within the General
Gifts section, you enter one-time
gifts as well as gifting program
details. For each gift entered,
the screen displays a grid list
of assets, which is used to specify
the funding source(s) of each gift.
You can specify the year to start,
year to stop and the recipient details.
The Advanced Transfers section includes
a broad range of trusts and other
transfer mechanisms that can be
used by the estate planner. Trust
and other transfer types supported
include CRAT, CRUT, Pooled Income
GRIT, Private Annuity, SCIN, and
Installment Sale.

Customization, Flexibility & Features – 4 Stars
CCH ViewPlan Advanced automatically
generates sample plans for your
client based on the information
you have entered. For married clients,
the sample plans generated include
All to Spouse (ATS), Optimum Marital
(OM), and No Marital (NM). Other
plan types (also called scenarios)
available include Variable Marital,
Variable Bypass Before Taxes, Variable
Bypass After Taxes, and After Tax.
You can add a new plan or copy and
modify an existing plan. Initially,
plans are based on the same set
of information entered in the Estate
Details screens. However, you can
enter overrides to modify certain
aspects of the general information
that have been entered. Each plan
also allows you to select specific
options, such as the timing of deaths,
asset growth rates, state law assumptions
for client and spouse, display options,
and generation skipping tax (GST).
Selecting ‘View’ from
this screen opens a screen with
graphical and text details of the
information entered and the calculations
used to arrive at the specific plan’s
result. The flowchart view provides
a powerful tool that will certainly
help clients visually understand
the complexities of the proposed

The Comparison Manager allows you
to select up to three plans for
side-by-side comparison. The comparison
provides both a comparison graphic
and columnar text report to easily
see the differences between various
plan alternatives. The Presentation
Wizard lets you customize a set
of reports and graphs for presentation
to the client. This provides a lot
of flexibility to pick and choose
the set of data and reports that
you feel would be most helpful for
your situation.

Client Presentation Tools – 5 Stars

CCH ViewPlan Advanced provides a
nice library of reports, including
Basic Plan, Retirement, Cash Needs,
Liquidity Costs, Probate/Living
Trust, Bypass Allocation, Beneficiary
Allocation, Section 6166, Section
303, Glossary, Generation Skipping
(Basic and Multiskip), Advanced
Transfers (Primary, Charitable Deduction/Actuarial
Calculations, Income Tax, Gift Tax,
and Annual Results), plus numerous
data input reports. A flowchart
is also available that visually
details the flow of assets from
client(s) to heirs. A Scenario Explanation
provides a nice plain-English client
presentation that explains key items
from the estate plan.

Company History – 5 Stars
CCH is a large provider of tax and
business law information and software.
With numerous accounting and legal
publications, the company uses its
authoritative research expertise
to bring a solid foundation to its
software products. The company employs
a team of accountants and attorneys
who are responsible for the CCH
ViewPlan Advanced product.

Relative Value – 4 Stars
is a powerful tool that has a very
user-friendly interface. You can
enter information in any order and
at whatever level of detail you
wish. This lets the attorney or
financial planner spend as much
or as little time working with the
client as they wish, yet provides
valuable information immediately,
even if it is somewhat of a broad
estimate. The graphs and presentation
material are professionally done,
and the online help covers both
theory and usage topics. A single-user
license costs $1,490. Multiple-user
license pricing varies and is available
on request.


Each review takes into consideration
several areas that are important
when deciding on a package that
best suits your needs and practice:
Comprehensiveness, Reliability &
and Ease of Use; Calculations; Customization,
Flexibility & Features; Client
Presentation Tools; Company History;
and Relative Value. Given the complexity
of this product category in general,
it is difficult to do these topics
justice in a limited space. You’ll
certainly want to do additional
detailed research regarding specific
features that you may be looking
for in your area of specialty. Each
company’s web site provides
a wealth of information, as well
as demo products.

In order to provide a consistent
basis for product pricing comparisons,
we have tried to identify a ‘prototypical’
firm that might use this type of
software. For estate planning software,
this is a financial services firm
that specializes in advanced planning
for high net worth clients. The
number of users could range from
one to any number, so I have tried
to provide the single-user price
for each package as well as the
price for additional user licenses.