Estate Planning Templates For Attorneys
Traditionally lawyers have assembled estate planning documents by using an existing Word document such as a living trust agreement and doing a “Save As” and modifying the new document. This approach can lead to multiple problems such as the embarrassing moment when you are showing the document to a client and a prior client’s name pops up in the new document.
The more modern approach is to use document assembly software. The leading document assembly program is HotDocs.
Using HotDocs and estate planning templates you can automate estate planning. Click here to view a video from HotDocs which provides a general explanation of how a finished document is produced using a template.
What the video doesn’t tell you is that you have to create the templates yourself. They don’t come with the software. HotDocs is an incredible program, but unfortunately it has a very high learning curve. Click here to view a video which explains illustrates the complexity of creating a template in HotDocs.
Unfortunately, based on my own experience and discussions with other attorneys, I believe it is almost impossible for the average attorney or law firm to use HotDocs to effectively automate their estate planning process. It’s just too complicated and time-consuming.
HotDocs has been around for about 20 years and I have been working on templates using HotDocs for just about the entire time HotDocs has been in existence. At a certain point I realized that I did not have the technical proficiency in Hot Docs to create the advanced templates that I needed for my practice.
For help I turned to Barron Henley at Affinity Consulting, a leading expert in Hot Docs and Word who is a frequent lecturer to bar associations and other lawyer organizations (including the Oregon Professional Liability Fund) on law office automation. I have spent hundreds of hours and many thousands of dollars working with Barron to create the ultimate estate planning templates which I use every day in my practice.
Working with Barron I became aware that HotDocs had started a new service -- HotDocs Market -- which would allow me to publish the templates I had created with Barron on HotDocs Market and allow attorneys to subscribe to the templates and use them in their own estate planning practices.
Click here to view a video providing a general explanation of how HotDocs Market works.
Many bar associations have published templates on HotDocs Market. Click here to view a video produced by HotDocs Market for the Nebraska State Bar Association which provides a more detailed explanation of how HotDocs Market works.
NobleForms, LLC offers a complete system for Oregon attorneys to automate their existing estate planning practice or to expand their practice to include estate planning. Attorneys get access to the templates by subscribing to NobleForms on the HotDocs Market website with a monthly ($100) or annual ($1000) subscription.
The estate planning documents are created in the Cloud and then downloaded in Word to the attorney’s computer where they can be saved and edited.
All the attorney needs is Word for PC or Word for Mac. It is not necessary to install HotDocs program on the attorney’s computer. HotDocs software only works on a PC, but using HotDocs Market an attorney can run the templates by using any internet browser program on any device, i.e., a PC, a Mac, or a tablet or phone.
The templates work for clients with simple estate planning needs as well as for clients with complex estate planning issues. Taken together the templates constitute a complete estate planning system from intake to document production to trust funding and creation of a three-ring binder for the client.
The system is especially helpful for younger attorneys who have had limited exposure to estate planning but who wish to expand their practice into estate planning.