Documate is now Gavel! Read more about why we’re excited about this rebrand.

Guide to Estate Planning Workflows

Gavel provides the tools to create workflows, or questionnaires, that gather data you can use to automate documents and so much more! There are many ways to set up a workflow. You can set up workflows that are internal only, client-facing, or a combination of both. From there, you can use Data Manager to push answers from one workflow to another workflow. This will eliminate the need to reenter information and reuse client data across many workflows.

Read on for tips on using Gavel to build your estate planning workflow and automate your documents.

What Types of Documents Can I Automate?

Your first step in building an Estate Planning Workflow will be identifying the documents you want to automate. One workflow can produce one or many documents. By creating conditional logic on the output documents, you can decide which documents to produce based on the questions answered. For example, you could automate the following:

  • Last Will & Testament
  • Pour-Over Will
  • Trust Funding Documents
  • HIPAA Release
  • Health Care Directive
  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Will
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Guardianship of Minors
  • Guardianship of Pets
  • Living Trust
  • List of Important Documents and Beneficiary Designations
  • Provision of Digital Assets
How Should I Build My Workflow?

Before you begin building, you should consider how you plan to use the workflow.

  • Do you want to create an internal system where your staff will use the workflow to output multiple documents? The Multiple Documents Method would be a good place to start.
  • Do you envision a client-facing workflow where you guide your client through making decisions? Look at the Intake or Interview Method.
  • Many estate planning attorneys have been using the Important People Method. This starts with a repeating item where the taker lists everyone they want to include in their estate plan. From there, they can select the person listed in the repeating item as beneficiaries, executors, guardians, etc.

Remember, these are just ideas, do what makes the most sense for your practice!

The Multiple Documents Method

In this method, your starting point is the choice of documents.

The Intake or Interview Method

In this method, your starting point is the client’s information. The workflow then expands from there, like in an intake interview.

  • Lay out all of the information you need from the client.
  • Determine which information depends on answers to other questions and which information you need to ask first.
  • Ask the questions that others depend on first (e.g., First, ask questions like “What is your marital status?” or “Do you have children?”).
  • Add logic to questions that are conditional (e.g., spouse name only appears if marital status is “married”) and page logic to any conditional pages (e.g., “children info” only appears if they have children).
  • Use repeating items for children, beneficiaries, property, bank accounts, etc.

Your workflow could include repeating items for a variety of information you need to collect, as in this example for assets:

The Important People Method

In this method, start by listing important people in a single repeating item variable, which you can then reference in subsequent questions. “Important people” could be family members or other individuals who will be named in the documents as beneficiaries or who will be given specific roles an the estate plan (e.g., guardian, executor, trustee). This is particularly good for more complex will and trust bundles, where people will be referenced in multiple roles throughout the documentation.

  • Start with a repeating item that includes subquestions for name, contact information, relationship, and anything else about the “important people.”
  • On a Client Information page, for the client name variable, create a single-select variable that uses the repeat item names as its selection options. You will use this method throughout to pull in the “important people.”
  • For children information, use a repeating item. Create a single-select variable for “childname” that pulls in the important people inputs as selection options.
  • Continue to create single-select variables that pull in the important people repeat item inputs as selection options for the relevant roles in the estate plan (e.g., Trustee, Guardian, Executor)
  • Add logic to questions that are conditional (e.g., spouse name only appears if marital status is “married”) and page logic to any conditional pages (e.g., “children info” only appears if they have children).
  • If you would like to see an example of this workflow design that you can also use to build off of, reach out to and we can transfer that to your account.


  • If you would like the user to be able to add to the list of “important people” whenever they’re asked to choose a person from one of the single-select variables you create, add ${ ItemName.add_action() } to the question text. (Make sure to replace “ItemName” with your repeat item name.) This will insert an “Add Another” button that will take the user back to the earlier repeat item. Use questionnaire formatting to adjust the location of the “Add Another” button.
  • Refer to Reference a Repeating Item Question to set the syntax in your documents that will pull in the name and contact information of the important people in relevant parts of your document.
How Can I Turn My Workflow(s) Into a Product?

Is there a service, document, or combination of the two that you can frame as a legal product? What type of work are you doing that could be considered a “package” instead of an hourly service?

In estate planning, some Gavel users productize their legal work by creating estate planning packages or bundles based on what individuals, couples, or families will need in various stages of their life.  For example:

Simple Will Package:
  1. Basic Will
  2. List of Important Documents and Beneficiary Designations
  3. Personal Property Gifts
Individual Estate Package:
  1. Will
  2. Power of Attorney
  3. Health Care Directive
  4. Guardianship of Minors
  5. Guardianship of Pets
  6. List of Important Documents and Beneficiary Designations
  7. Provision of Digital Assets
Couple Estate Package:
  1. Will
  2. Power of Attorney x2
  3. Health Care Directive x2
  4. Guardianship of Minors
  5. Guardianship of Pets
  6. List of Important Documents and Beneficiary Designations x2
  7. Provision of Digital Assets x2
The Emptying Nest Package:
  1. HIPAA Release
  2. Health Care Directive
Where Can I Sell My Build?

Besides selling your system on your website, Gavel hosts a Marketplace, a space for people to search and find the perfect tool for their legal needs. Check out the Marketplace, and you can see what other people have built on Gavel and are now selling in the Gavel Marketplace. Your next build could be sold here, too!

How to Make a Will Without a Lawyer by Advanced Will and Trust

Estate Planning Documents Generated For You by Instant Family Trust