Tuesday, August 13, 2013

e-Builder and Estate Planning

The Miami Herald's Business Monday of yesterday features e-Builder, based in Plantation [Broward County, just north of Miami-Dade], a firm that

has developed cloud-based software for construction program management that makes it simpler for builders and developers to efficiently manage the enormous complexity of major construction projects, and helps reduce costs.

The company’s Web-based system allows its clients — mostly builders and developers of multiple projects — to see and manage every detail of a project. It also permits other players, such as subcontractors and engineers, to view their particular section of a project and immediately communicate with each other via desktop computers, tablets or smartphones.

Its a great story in so many ways.  Two brothers, Jon and Ron Antevy, from "a family of construction contractors", working together (such a potent sort of partnership) to create a business that serves builders of complex construction projects as far away as California.  Their business bio shows fine educations,  hard work, creative minds.  They wed all that with enterprise software, which, to me, is ideation applied to the marketplace, one reality linked to another in such a productive way.  Plato and Aristotle, together at last.

The software is collaborative, involving people at all levels of the management of a complex construction project.

It fascinates me because where the Antevy brothers live is, on a much larger scale, where I live as an estate planning lawyer, dealing with ideas of what the future should look like, preparing a grand document that expresses that idea and marshaling a client's assets so that, when the contingency, no, the certainty, arises, those assets track the idea efficiently and effectively.  Where the horizon of e-Builder is relatively near and relatively certain, I have to deal with a horizon that is certainly there, death, but just when it will arise is usually of great uncertainty.  Meanwhile, however, we have developed with our client a plan for what should happen when the certainty arises.  And we have assets in the here-and-now that must be linked the plan, and there's the rub: making that link and then, once we make those links, tending those idea-asset links into that future, as circumstances will always change over the balance of the client's life.

I collaborate as well, with the client of course, and sometimes with members of his family, with business partners of that client sometimes, with bankers, accountants, financial advisers, insurance agents, people who also serve the client and ought to be involved with the estate plan build.

I have often thought of using enterprise software on the micro-scale of estate planning.  There are many, many variables in such planning, not only in terms of the potential collaborators, but crucially at the asset level.  It is too expensive for lawyers to do the work at that level. Staff can do that work, however, as long as they are well trained and well-directed.  The well-direction, it seems to me, can largely come from the right enterprise software, it seems to me.  What lives in my head, after 40+ years as a lawyer, ought to be transferable in significant part.  Just as the education and experience of the Antevy brothers, the owners of e-Builder, were transferred to their software, why not something like that being transferred to the loss-leader of all loss-leaders in the trusts and estates world, estate planning.  There is huge market for estate planning, that is, there is a huge need for estate planning, if we could only get the price right.

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