Vanilla Blog

Financial and estate planning insights for advisors, planners, and attorneys

John Costello
May 15, 2024

Transforming Estate Law Practices: Vanilla Introduces “Vanilla for Attorneys” for the Modern Legal Community

Vanilla for Attorneys helps trust and estate attorneys streamline estate planning and modernize client experiences. Vanilla, a leading provider of innovative estate planning software, today announced the launch of Vanilla for Attorneys. This newly tailored offering redefines estate planning, allowing attorneys to shift from transactional meetings to fostering ongoing, modern client relationships. Vanilla for Attorneys … Continued

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Brian Falldin

May 15, 2024

Discover Vanilla’s Latest Enhancements: VAI Chat, Estate Health Check, GST Capabilities, and More

As we embrace the vibrant spring season, Vanilla is excited to unveil even more new features and enhancements designed to simplify complex processes, provide intuitive planning tools, and foster deeper advisor-client conversations: Get estate planning answers fast with the full launch of VAI Chat, now generally available. VAI chat offers immediate AI-driven answers and insights, enabling users to efficiently navigate the complexities of estate planning. Streamline client assessments with the Estate Health Check, a quick and effective way for advisors to gather critical insights about a client's current estate situation without the need for exhaustive document reviews. Optimize wealth transfer...

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Madison Eubanks

May 14, 2024

The Roles and Responsibilities of a Trustee

There are many different types of trusts that can be used in estate planning to achieve a range of various purposes and goals. One common element among all trusts is the appointment of a trustee to manage its assets.  What exactly does a trustee do? This article will cover everything you need to know about trustee responsibilities, how a trustee should be chosen, and more. What is a trustee?  A trustee is a person or entity that holds and administers a trust’s assets or properties for the trust’s beneficiaries. In general, a trustee is tasked with managing a trust’s assets,...

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Madison Eubanks

May 08, 2024

Retirement Trusts: Are They Right for Your Clients?

As many people age, it’s common for their retirement plan to represent the largest portion of their assets. In estate planning, retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs often require special attention because there are unique rules about how they can be transferred to beneficiaries.  In some cases, a retirement trust can be a helpful solution. Here, we’ll explore what a retirement trust is, the advantages and disadvantages of using one, how to set up a retirement trust account, and more.  What is a retirement trust?  A retirement trust is an estate planning strategy in which a trust is named as...

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John Costello

May 08, 2024

Transforming Estate Law Practices: Vanilla Introduces “Vanilla for Attorneys” for the Modern Legal...

Vanilla for Attorneys helps trust and estate attorneys streamline estate planning and modernize client experiences. Vanilla, a leading provider of innovative estate planning software, today announced the launch of Vanilla for Attorneys. This newly tailored offering redefines estate planning, allowing attorneys to shift from transactional meetings to fostering ongoing, modern client relationships. Vanilla for Attorneys provides attorneys with a powerful, easy-to-use platform to help them onboard clients, model complex estate planning scenarios, and elevate client conversations. Designed to support the legacy building process end to end, Vanilla for Attorneys enables attorneys to provide a differentiated, holistic planning approach that results...

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Madison Eubanks

Apr 29, 2024

4 of the Most Important Takeaways from Legacy Now Spring 2024

At Vanilla’s most recent estate advisory summit, Legacy Now Spring 2024, thought leaders from across the estate planning industry to discuss emerging trends, best practices, and informed strategies for all types of firms.  This year’s virtual event featured three expert panels, an interview with former Vanguard CEO Bill McNabb, a sneak peek at Vanilla’s product roadmap, and a conversation between NBA champion Shane Battier and his advisor, Steve Lockshin.  The 90 minutes were jam-packed with insights from experienced advisors, attorneys, and planners, all of which you can watch here in the complete recording.  Otherwise, keep reading for four must-know highlights...

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Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Apr 29, 2024

Survivor’s Trusts: Everything You Need to Know

Of the many different types of trusts out there, some are designed specifically to help married couples transfer their assets according to the wishes and needs of each individual within the marriage. These trusts can be structured to provide for the surviving spouse while also being mindful of estate tax considerations for the surviving spouse and future beneficiaries. A survivor's trust is an estate planning tool used by married couples to ensure that after one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse will have access to a portion of the assets to provide for their living needs. There are several benefits...

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John Costello

Apr 24, 2024

Vanilla Expands Document Creation to Offer a Complete, Modern Estate Planning Experience

New Vanilla Document Builder™️, announced at biannual Legacy Now event, delivers modern estate planning for all wealth levels. Vanilla, a leading provider of innovative estate planning software, today announced an expanded set of features for Vanilla Document BuilderTM, the modern document creation engine within the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform. Financial advisors using Vanilla can now offer a compelling modern estate planning experience for clients across the wealth spectrum. New features include the ability to connect directly with legal experts, to get powers of attorney for adult children, and to tap into advanced tax planning options. These enhancements were unveiled at...

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Rachel Pettis

Apr 16, 2024

What’s New in Vanilla: New features for April 2024

Spring (and Legacy Now) is in the air! April is showering Vanilla with multiple new features, enabling our customers to: Expedite document reviews in Vanilla Estate Builder with smart suggestions powered by VAI™ and additional customization with Advanced Distributions Show the potential future impact of layering on a SLAT or GRAT with Vanilla Scenarios™ Invite clients to engage an estate attorney in certain states when completing their documents with Vanilla Document Builder Include the cost of Vanilla Document Builder in your firm’s fee structure with a Charge Me option Add your firm’s custom compliance disclosures to the Vanilla PDF report...

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Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Apr 15, 2024

Section 6166: How You Can Defer Estate Tax

Do you have clients who own a business or have just recently inherited one? When it comes to estate planning for business owners, understanding section 6166 of the US tax code could make a big difference in ensuring continuity of the business after the owner passes away. While there are several estate planning strategies that can help clients reduce their overall estate tax bill, those who own a business should also be aware of strategies to defer payments on estate taxes to keep their heirs from having to do a fire sale of the business just to pay taxes. So...

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Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Apr 04, 2024

Schedule K-1 Forms: Managing Your Client’s Estate Income

When helping clients with their estate plan, taxes are one of the key components to take into account as part of the planning process. And while there are several estate planning strategies that can be used to minimize or eliminate estate taxes for clients, here we’ll talk specifically about taxes that an estate or a trust incurs on its income. One of the forms that clients should be familiar with if they are trustees, administrators, or beneficiaries of an estate or a trust is schedule K-1. Since there are a few different types of K-1 forms, it’s important to understand...

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Madison Eubanks

Apr 02, 2024

Letter of Testamentary: What It Is & Why You Need It

Creating a last will and testament is one of the most fundamental efforts in estate planning, and a key component is naming an executor to carry out the will’s instructions. The executor is the person who will administer the estate, sees it through the probate process, and settles the decedent’s final affairs—in short, it’s a big responsibility.  Before the executor can begin administering a deceased person’s estate, though, the executor needs to obtain a Letter of Testamentary (also called letters testamentary). In this article, we’ll explain what a letter of testamentary is, why you might need one, how to get...

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Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Mar 28, 2024

Should you use a transfer on death account (TOD)?

When it comes to estate planning, each individual’s needs dictate the simplicity or complexity of the solution that will best fit their goals. For those who care about avoiding probate, ease of distribution to beneficiaries, and simplicity of set-up, a transfer on death (TOD) account could be a great option.  A TOD account provides a simple way to transfer assets to beneficiaries without the need for complex legal structures like trusts. Here, we’ll explain what a TOD account is, its main benefits and drawbacks, and how it can be used as part of an estate plan to transfer wealth quickly...

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