Vanilla Blog

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

John Costello
Sep 26, 2023

Vanilla Unveils Vanilla Scenarios™ to Power Interactive Estate Planning and Modeling

Vanilla Scenarios provides advisors and estate strategists with powerful planning tools to identify planning gaps, visualize future projections, and optimize plans for maximum impact. Vanilla, a leading provider of innovative estate planning software, today announced the availability of Vanilla Scenarios™, a powerful new tool designed to optimize clients’ estate plans for the future. Vanilla Scenarios … Continued

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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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Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Mar 26, 2024

How AI Can Be Used in Your Law Firm

For busy attorneys, finding ways to boost efficiency can elevate client service and free up more hours in your day—and leaning on carefully chosen tools may help you achieve that. With the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and its practical uses in improving efficiency across so many industries, you may be wondering how—if at all—you might use it in your law practice.  From removing tedious administrative tasks to speeding up case analysis and research, the latest AI technologies present many opportunities to help solo practitioners and large law firms maximize productivity while improving client outcomes. The use of AI in...

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Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Mar 21, 2024

Popular Software for Law Firms in 2024

As a legal professional, incorporating specialized software for lawyers into your practice can help you save countless hours and improve productivity, all while providing better service to your clients. Finding the right legal industry software can free you from routine tasks so you can spend more time on the most essential work that only you can do. Plus, many software solutions can take some of the weight off the shoulders of your assistants and paralegals, improving efficiency and productivity in your firm. Software for law firms comes in many categories.  To help you gain a better idea of how legal...

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Rachel Pettis

Mar 19, 2024

Vanilla’s new features for March – Introducing Vanilla Scenarios & an upgraded Estate...

March feature madness is in full swing here at Vanilla with new releases and an exciting launch last week! Here's what we're most excited about this month: Introducing Vanilla Scenarios™ An upgraded client Estate Profile Model the future impact of planning with Vanilla Scenarios™ Currently in the Vanilla platform, advisors, planners, and attorneys can use our recently enhanced projections feature to visualize a client’s current estate at a future point in time, like the 2026 Sunset. With Vanilla Scenarios™, rolling out over the coming months, wealth advisors will be able to model the future impact of advanced planning on top...

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Madison Eubanks

Mar 19, 2024

Practical Advice for Navigating Probate

Probate—the legal process of administering a person’s estate after their death—can be a loaded topic. Depending on the size and complexity of the decedent’s (the deceased person’s) estate, how organized their affairs were at the time of their death, the state they lived in, and many other factors, the probate process may vary widely from person to person.  Of course, the best way to deal with probate is to avoid it. A thorough estate plan that includes a revocable trust dictating where assets go can allow an estate to bypass (or mostly bypass) the oft-tedious probate process. To learn more...

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Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Mar 14, 2024

Dynasty Trusts: Everything You Need to Know

To achieve estate planning objectives, it helps to be familiar with various types of trusts. A dynasty trust can be a great tool for clients who want to preserve their wealth or family business for several generations while minimizing estate taxes. Here, we’ll help you understand what exactly a dynasty trust is, how it works, how it differs from other trusts, how to set one up, and when it might be a good idea to use one. We’ll also discuss the tax implications of using a dynasty trust and how it can minimize a certain type of tax that specifically...

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John Costello

Mar 12, 2024

Vanilla Unveils Vanilla Scenarios™ to Power Interactive Estate Planning and Modeling

Vanilla Scenarios provides advisors and estate strategists with powerful planning tools to identify planning gaps, visualize future projections, and optimize plans for maximum impact. Vanilla, a leading provider of innovative estate planning software, today announced the availability of Vanilla Scenarios™, a powerful new tool designed to optimize clients' estate plans for the future. Vanilla Scenarios modernizes estate planning by providing advisors, wealth planners, and estate lawyers with unparalleled capabilities to model multiple planning scenarios dynamically and in real-time.  Advisors can effortlessly layer multiple strategies onto existing plans and customize the details of each strategy, including changes to their client’s state...

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Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Mar 01, 2024

25 Critical Discovery Questions for Financial Advisors

Whether you’re meeting with a new prospective client or doing a client review with a client you’ve had for decades, it’s important to know how to guide the conversation. Asking the right questions allows you to gain the insights you need to provide the best advice possible while fostering a deeper connection. Because when you take the time to listen to clients’ answers to these questions mindfully, It shows that you genuinely care about their goals, values, and needs. The questions you ask at the first discovery meeting with a new potential client are especially key in building a strong...

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