Magazine article The CPA Journal

Estate Planning System for Windows

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Estate Planning System for Windows

Article excerpt

Research Institute of America's new Estate Planning System, scheduled for release in August 1996, is a comprehensive customizable estate planning and compliance tool in a CD-ROM format. The Estate Planning System (EPS) consists of a series of modules from which practitioners can choose based on their professional needs. It is an outgrowth of the Estate Planning Advisor (EPA), which was released last year and which I also reviewed in preparing this column. The two packages provide convenient research tools for those involved with estate and financial planning of high-networth individuals.

Both rely on Folio's search engine, which provides user-friendly Windows features such as navigating with a mouse, point-and-click command launching, and an intuitive graphical user interface. The Windows capabilities include

query templates, which can be used to construct quick, specific, and effective search queries in seconds.

a navigational aid (called Navigator), which tracks every file (referenced to by RIA as an Infobase) that is opened, every search that is executed, and all data that is linked (referenced).

a time and activity log, which simplifies tracking billable research time. a new, extensive Help system.

The CD-ROM contains the setup program, which is executed by using the standard Windows install procedure.

Staring the Program

The opening screen contains the usual Window's drop menu selections such as file and edit. In addition, it contains the following items when the full menu option is selected in the preferences menu: search, layout, customize, and RIA tools. The preferences menu provides two other settings (browse and personalize), which provide fewer choices than the full menu. Additionally, the preference menu provides a number of other options including ribbon bars, editing, and security options. One useful option is the status bar, which shows the item originally accessed even though the screen has been scrolled to something else. The number of status bar text lines can be varied from 0 to 50.

The desktop also contains a moveable tool belt below the Window's menu line. This menu line, which is customizable, initially contains graphical buttons for

closing Windows,

tagging text sections (see below for explanation),

printing,

saving as,

generating queries,

moving back and forth within documents,

switching between documents and contents (see below),

accessing the Navigator (the file that keeps a complete log of all of your research activities),

accessing the time log (used of billing purposes), and

returning to the main menu screen. Several dozen other options are available.

The Help System

A very detailed help system is provided. It is supposed to contain a tutorial; however, I could not find it. It appeared to be nothing more than selected sections of the Help System, rather than a computer-based training tool. Outside of definitions and a short-cut key guide, I did not find the Help System very helpful. It needs work. The Quick Reference Card was more useful.

RIA should also provide a zoom control so that screen contents can be reduced or enlarged. I found that the forms were too wide for the screen.

The Main Menu

The EPA contains the following interrelated modules, which are selectable in the main menu (Note: the CD-ROM must be installed for the program to work.):

Tools, techniques, rates, tables,

Analysis

Code, regulations, tax treaties

Will/trust forms and clauses

Estate Planner's Alert newsletter

Internal Revenue Code

Regulations

The EPA service also includes the RIA electronic Federal and state forms applicable to estate work. The forms are run from a separate Windows-based program contained on the CD-ROM. The forms can be printed as blanks or filled in, saved, and printed. …

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