Gillett Estate Management Suite

Developed by Mark R. Gillett and Konrad Schmidt

Published by Gillett Publishing LLC

Reviewed by Bernard A. Krooks and Amy C. O’Hara

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MARCH 2008 - Gillett Estate Management Suite, commonly known as GEMS (gillett
publishing.com), offers preparation of federal estate tax returns (GEM706), fiduciary accounts (GEMAcct), and federal gift-tax returns (GEM709). GEM706 currently supports Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin state modules. GEMAcct supports California, Florida, and New York state modules. GEMS offers no state modules for GEM709. According to a GEMS representative, Connecticut and Massachusetts state modules for GEM706 will be offered during the first quarter of 2008. GEMS is available as a suite only; components cannot be purchased individually. Details on pricing are available on the company’s website. The software is priced competitively and the terms are clear.

The authors of GEMS, Mark Gillett and Konrad Schmidt, have more than 40 years of experience developing estate management software. GEMS, which is designed for use on Microsoft Windows operating systems, is the successor to West Group’s DOS-based Federal Estate Tax Return Form 706 and Fiduciary Accounting for Trusts and Estates, and the current software retains the clear and efficient layout of those programs.

GEMAcct prepares reports using a double-entry accounting system, allowing the user to simplify the data entry of the accounting. The program is user-friendly, and an accounting background is not necessary to understand the program. The reports are in accordance with the National Fiduciary Accounting Standards developed by the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. GEMAcct allows users to interface with Quicken to import asset and transaction details from brokerage accounts directly to the accounting module. GEMSAcct also allows users to import fair market value information directly from Estate Valuations & Pricing Systems, Inc. (EVP)’s estate valuation software. The IRS has an exclusive contract with EVP to value securities during audits.

GEM706 handles all aspects of the preparation of the federal estate tax return. It is easy to transfer information from GEMAcct without reentering data. Again, users can interface with Quicken and EVP to value securities on the date of the decedent’s death, or an alternate value.

GEM 709 allows a user to easily prepare gift-tax returns, and offers comprehensive applications for split gifts, generation-skipping transfer (GST) exemptions, and Crummey transfers.

GEMS components offer comprehensive manuals in PDF format that you can search and print. The manuals are detailed, well written, and easy to use and understand.

The website takes a utilitarian approach in providing essential information needed to evaluate and test GEMS. Four demonstrations are provided on the website. One is a brief introduction to each component; the other three demonstrate the GEM components. A free 30-day trial of the software can be downloaded.

GEMS software is easy to use because it is laid out clearly and systematically. The main menu structure of each GEMS component serves as a roadmap and will be familiar to users of Windows-based software. For filling out 706 forms, the inherent simplicity of the software is a tremendous plus.

As with any product, there is room for improvement. Currently, GEMS’s state modules are available only in select states (New York is the only state available for both GEMAcct and GEM706). Also, unlike many competitors, GEMS does not offer a 1041 program. Some customer service is provided to support the GEMS product; however, customer support’s hours are only 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST. If lines are busy, you may leave a message and a response is expected within one business day. Alternatively, customers may send an e-mail detailing their problem and, again, can expect to receive a response within one business day. This can be problematic when a preparer has only a couple of days to prepare and file a tax return. (The reviewers contacted customer support and had to leave a message; however, the call was returned within the hour.) Additionally, some website material does not appear to have been updated in several months. For example, various pages promote the 2006 Form 706/709 releases and not 2007, and some “Frequently Asked Questions” answers have not been updated in at least 12 months.

The website indicates that the company plans to provide an upgrade to GEMS that would allow users of the WealthCounsel program to seamlessly import data from their WealthDocs files into GEMS for estate planning purposes; a GEMS representative has confirmed that they are very close to the interface of the two programs.

Customer feedback on GEMS has been very positive, even though the program has been around for only two years. Many customers report that they enjoyed using the authors’ DOS-based estate planning programs that were published in the 1980s, and appreciate the ease of use of GEMS software.

GEMS is an intuitive, user-friendly program that will greatly help users prepare federal (and some state) estate and gift tax filings and fiduciary accountings. This first-rate product will be a major player for years to come.


Bernard A. Krooks, JD, CPA, LLM (tax), CELA, a founding partner of the law firm Littman Krooks LLP
(www.littmankrooks.com), with offices in New York City, White Plains, and Fishkill, N.Y., is certified as an elder-law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation.
Amy C. O’Hara, Esq., is an associate at Littman Krooks LLP, focusing on estate planning, estate administration, elder law, and special needs planning.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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