Estate Management Suite
by Mark R. Gillett and Konrad Schmidt
by Gillett Publishing LLC
by Bernard A. Krooks and Amy C. O’Hara
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.
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.
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
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
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.
offer comprehensive manuals in PDF format that you can search
and print. The manuals are detailed, well written, and easy to
use and understand.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
A. Krooks, JD, CPA, LLM (tax), CELA, a founding partner
of the law firm Littman Krooks LLP
with offices in New York City, White Plains, and Fishkill, N.Y.,
is certified as an elder-law attorney by the National Elder Law
Amy C. O’Hara, Esq., is an associate at Littman
Krooks LLP, focusing on estate planning, estate administration,
elder law, and special needs planning.