We are entering a new year and attorneys are getting ready to have some time over the holidays to work on their practice and their processes and software.
One of the things we have found is that it's not always easy to get a good overview of all the estate planning software options available to you and your practice. So here's a list we compiled with tools we integrate with or know about that are used by estate planning attorneys.
They break down into three main categories of categories: Practice Management, Draft Software and Document Automation.
The first category are practice management tools for estate planning
Tools under this category can be further categorized to have capabilities in CRM, Practice Management or both.
Actionstep mostly focuses on practice management and workflows. It allows you to build out custom matter types which each can have a number of workflow "steps" inside of them that need to get completed to move the matter from beginning to end. It's very flexible and customizable, which some will love and others will want to hire out to a consultant.
Clio covers both case management as well as CRM - but in the shape of two semi-separate tools: Clio Grow and Clio Manage. Clio was one of the first cloud-based practice management tools so they have been around for a while and have a large number of integrations. They also own the Lawyaw document automation solution.
Lawcus has an integrated offering of both CRM and Case Management capability. It has a built-in automation engine that allows you to build out your own automations.
Lawmatics started out with a focus on CRM and integrates with a number of the practice management tools in this list. It has recently added billing functionality which makes it possible for some attorneys to just use Lawmatics for marketing and practice management.
MyCase is more focused on case management than on CRM / Marketing flows. They merged with AffiniPay (the parent company of LawPay) in 2022. They only started opening up to integration partners this past year so they need to catch up to some of the other tools in this list in terms of the number of integrations, but they're focused on expanding this.
PracticePanther is stronger on the practice management side. It's a mature tool that has a solid base of integrations.
Smokeball is a bit different. First of all it's a PC Windows application instead of a cloud-based web application like most in this list. They do have a cloud backend so the different users in your practice can work on the same set of data. The advantage of being on desktop is a closer integration with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Word. Another thing that's different about Smokeball is that they have a content team that has built out specific matter types that are state and practice area specific. This allows them to offer many document automations (like with court forms) out of the box.
EstateWorks is a practice management solution for estate administration and settlement. It allows attorneys to build up workflows and checklists to make sure the settlement case gets handled in the right way and nothing gets missed. It can generate probate and tax forms automatically based on case data.
Filevine is more focused on practice management, while they offer CRM functionality through their sister company "Lead Docket".
Rocket Matter is a cloud-based practice management tool focused on small and midsize law practices.
Zoho is a general CRM solution that's part of the Zoho One suite of offerings. This allows you to automate and streamline your digital office work.
Hubspot might be of interest to attorneys who are just starting out, because they have a generous free tier which makes it easy to get started with keeping track of your clients and where they are in the process.
The second category is drafting software. These tools streamline the document drafting process, and keep you up to date with the latest planning strategies and changes in state/federal law.
Interactive Legal offers a cloud-based drafting solution that helps attorneys draft Estate Planning, Elder Law and other documents, and offers a community and educational resources.
As of 2023 WealthCounsel and ElderCounsel will be merged and continue under the WealthCounsel brand name. WealthCounsel offers a cloud based drafting solution that helps attorneys draft a variaty of Estate / Elder and Business Planning documents, and offers a community and educational resources.
ADAPT is the sister company to FORE!Trust, which is a Hotdocs Desktop based drafting solution that is no longer accepting new subscribers. ADAPT offers a cloud-based drafting solution that continuous on from the FORE! Trust templates.
Lawyers with Purpose
Lawyers with Purpose has a cloud-based drafting solution built on top of Actionstep that offers Estate Planning and Elder Law documents, as well as other resources to grow your practice.
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys
The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys has drafting software available based on Actionstep and Hotdocs, which helps with the drafting of documents and trust funding.
The third category are Document Automation tools.
Some of the practice management tools mentioned above can generate documents. Once the complexity of the templates increases though it's better to look at one of the specialized tools from the list below.
Gavel (formerly Documate)
Gavel lets you build up an online workflow to gather the variables that are needed in the documents - and then use those to generate the word documents or PDFs. You also have the option to turn these into legal apps where the client can pay and receive the documetns in a fully self-serve way.
Woodpecker is now part of the MyCase line of products, but the tool can be used independently. It lets you build up complex templates in Microsoft Word, and can fill one or more documents at once with variables.
Formstack Documents is another tool that lets you automate documents. It is less capable with complex logic and conditional fields than the other document automation tools in this list - but it does have the capability to customize the "delivery" of documents to a greater degree. The generated documents can be saved automatically to several cloud storage providers or sent for e-signature through a number of partners.
Lawyaw started as document automation software to easily fill court forms. Over the last year, they’ve digitized all the court forms across all US states, allowing you to fill those easily. They have also expanded to have a document automation solution like the other tools in this category, where you can build up your own MS Word document and fill it with specific variables.
Knackly supports a high level of customization and complex data structures. It can automate multiple documents under one workflow, and also lets you build these into legal apps where the client can provide info and pay for documents in a self-serve way.
Hotdocs Advance is a more enterprise level focused document automation platform that allows you to build automations that rival the complexity and depth of documents offered by the draft platforms in the previous section.
DecisionVault integrates with most of the estate planning software tools listed in this article. We simplify your new clients’ intake and automate the data flows in your practice.
Pick the tools you want to use and pass data captured through the intake portal to your other legal tools in seconds without re-entering it, to ensure your clients and their loved ones are taken care of in an accurate and timely manner.
To stay up to date with DecisionVault, check out our updates on LinkedIn or view our Product Tour to get a feel for what DecisionVault can do for your practice.