Innovative Firms


“We see estate planning as one of the last frontiers for advisers,” said Sam Trapkin, head of product for Vanilla, an estate planning platform. Highlights of its offerings include automated creation of will and trust documents, attorney review and simple diagrams or flow charts illustrating the decisions represented in the documents.

Clients fill out the white-labeled estate planning questions online based on standard legal forms that Vanilla has rewritten and simplified to make more understandable. Embedded hot links within the questionnaire provide answers to commonly asked questions. Generally, it takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete.

Upon completion, forms are forwarded to a Vanilla-affiliated attorney who will review the document with the client. There is also an option to send forms to an outside attorney. Vanilla monitors the progress of the process for the adviser.

Average turn-around time is about two weeks, Trapkin said.

— Deborah Nason