As an estate planning attorney, you know that everyone should have a will. This is especially true if someone has any kind of assets.
However, most people don't want to think about it until they reach the twilight of their life. Only one out of every five millennials have a will, while 81% of people 72 and older have one.
By this time, your clients have had years to acquire assets and have a complicated estate. The right drafting software can help you stay organized while streamlining the estate plan preparation process.
There are a few features you should look for when choosing the right software for your firm.
Client Friendly Documents
One of the most time-consuming tasks of your day is explaining the law to your clients. Legal documents tend to use language that most Americans find convoluted and confusing.
It's harder to create a well written concise document than a long, drawn-out one. Shorter documents are also easier and quicker to prepare.
The right software keeps your documents streamlined. If your client's estate is relatively simple, there is no need to include five extra pages of unrelated legalese.
While every client's situation is unique, practice estate planning long enough and you start to see some trends. What if you could use this information to make your job easier?
The right estate planning software can help you with this. Look for software that will let you create scenarios. These are profiles of your typical client.
When you speak to a new client, you already have a package of documents you know you will need. All you need to do is determine which profile the new client fits. This ensures you never miss creating a required document.
Let's take a look at Beyond Counsel as an example. This software lets you create different scenarios, including one for a will and revocable living trust.
This would automatically prepare the following necessary documents:
- Specific distributions
- Age restrictions
- Miscellaneous provisions
First Person Language
There was a time when legal documents were designed to be difficult to understand with complicated formatting. Those days are rapidly dying. Clients today want to be able to read and understand what they paid for.
About 63 million Americans are able to read between a sixth and eighth-grade reading level. Another 30 million Americans are unable to understand writings that are meant for a 10-year-old.
With this in mind, using first-person language makes your legal documents easier for reading comprehension. This is important because you want your client's true wishes to be clearly communicated.
Simple and clear text helps to reduce the potential for debate over the intended bequeathment of the deceased.
As estate planning attorneys, you know better than anyone that relationships are important. So what if you could find a software that lets you record relationship status?
This little extra touch will add a level of personalization to your documents that your clients will notice. You can use this recording to refer to the client's spouse, children, parents, or any beneficiary by name, age, or relationship to the client.
What if you could have supporting documents that help your clients better understand all that you do for them? This could increase client satisfaction and communication.
Quality drafting software will have these supporting documents. Some you might find included are:
- Directions for the Remains
- Letter of last instruction
- Disengagement letter
- Question and Answer sheet
- Cover letter
As you can see, there are many documents your client's family will need after their passing. They aren't necessarily legal documents that need to be specially prepared by an attorney.
This extra service can put your client's mind at ease, knowing that everything is taken care of for their family. These supporting documents will help guide the family through the required tasks during this emotional time.
Custom Document Formatting
You need document prep software that lets you customize your documents. This is the only way your law firm will look professional. The best software will let you update your firm's information in one place.
Then this master profile will automatically update the rest of your document templates. This will drastically reduce the manual labor it will take to update forms should you move offices or get a new phone number.
There will be a learning curve, no matter what software you choose. The trick is to choose one that has a smaller learning curve. One feature to pay attention to is the software's usability.
A program that uses Microsoft Styles means that your staff's editing and navigation are native to Microsoft Word. Since this is a standard word processing software, the learning curve will be smaller.
Beyond Counsel allows users to make edits and update global settings right from Word. There is a toolbar that appears while your staff uses Word allowing you to:
- Update the table of contents
- Adjust margins
- Insert new paragraphs
- Copy paragraphs
- Capitalize and bold names
- Change the font
The best software in the world is useless if you don't use it. Look for software that comes with complete training. The best options will also offer assistance in setting up your software.
Look for training that includes an intensive in-person workshop. Or maybe personalized coaching by an experienced attorney who can give you insights.
Then look for ongoing assistance. The law is always changing, and so should your software. Ongoing integration support ensures your software stays viable for years to come.
Use the Best Drafting Software for Your Firm
The right drafting software will decrease your overhead, improve productivity, increase client satisfaction, and help your law firm grow. Look for a software that has the features we've discussed here.
One software that has everything we've discussed is Beyond Counsel. This easy to use software offers full customization and scalability for your estate planning firm.
Schedule a demo today and find out what Beyond Counsel can do for your elder law practice.