Where To Find Information On New Real Estate Laws

We are getting closer to the big changes coming to real estate closing as of August 1, 2015. As the date approaches, we at Easy Soft are updating our software to comply with the new laws. We’ve gotten lots of questions about the new rules and in many cases our answer is a frustrating “We don’t know at this point.”

What We Know And What We Don’t

Our real estate experts have looked over the new CFPB rules so we can understand how our current real estate closing software will have to change. The updated version of Easy HUD will be launched well in advance of the August 1 deadline to give you plenty of time to adjust to the new system.

Although we are happy to answer questions about the upcoming changes to our HUD software, we are simply not in a position to answer most of the questions about the CFPB rules, the new forms, or how the industry is going to change. This is for two reasons. First, we simply don’t know the answers to some of these questions. Second, and more important, we aren’t attorneys. We are software developers and as such we are not qualified to provide the kind of information many of our clients are looking for.

Where Can You Go For Information

What we can do is provide you links to other sources of information. These are sites we ourselves are watching to order to understand how the new rules and forms will impact the industry.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the agency responsible for implementing changes stemming from the Dodd-Frank Act, so is the best source of accurate information. Their Know Before You Owe page provides information on the history of the act, copies of the new forms, links to the full text of the rule, and a host of other resources for consumers, lenders and others affected by the rule changes.

For opinions on how these changes will affect the industry, we suggest you consult real estate trade magazines such as CFPB Monitor, National Mortgage News or Mortgage Compliance Magazine (their January 2015 issue was all about the CFPB changes).

Easy Soft will continue to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry so we can develop the best high quality closing disclosure software you’ve come to expect. We’ll provide some industry insight in this blog, but mostly our focus is on providing the tools your practice needs to succeed in today’s real estate market.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in HUD Software | Comments Off

Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth: Support For A Thankless Child

There is a lot of attention — rightfully so — on irresponsible parents who don’t pay child support. However there isn’t much discussion about the ungrateful child who not only doesn’t appreciate the parent making payments every month but is overtly abusive to the parent. There is often more to a post-divorce situation than can be reflected on the NY Statement of Net Worth. Is a parent obligated to keep making payments if the relationship is estranged?

Is A Child’s Attitude Relevant?

Many children don’t appreciate the sacrifices their parents make. It may be because they are too young to understand that money doesn’t simply appear as though by magic. It may be because they are going through those selfish teenage years. It may even be their parents have been so giving that the kids have become spoiled. However the more important question is: does the child’s attitude matter in child support negotiations?

The short answer is maybe. New York law makes it clear that parents are expected to support minor children, even if those children are brats. However the key word there is “minor”. Once the child turns 18, the rules change. Although constructive emancipation rules indicate that parents are expected to support children until the age of 21, the laws aren’t so strict once the child is no longer a minor.

The Rules For Employable Children

The January 17, 2015 decision in Cornell v. Cornell relates to this scenario. Briefly, the mother in the divorce was paying child support to defray her college-age son’s education expenses. The son was not only ungrateful but verbally abusive to her. He avoided contact with her and when he did speak to her he used words to describe her that we will not repeat here. Since the son was of employable age, Justice Richard Dollinger ruled, “Vulgar words, voiced by a son against his mother easily justify discontinuing the mother’s obligation to support the ungrateful child.”

EzSupport-NY can be an important tool when dealing with this kind of tempestuous relationship. An attorney using NY child support software might decide it is tax-smart to pay more spousal support and less child support, while still paying the same total amount every month. However it’s important to consider what will happen once the child turns 18 and/or 21 since the spousal support payments will continue. If the relationship is already sour, it’s not likely to get better after the divorce.

Attorneys can create multiple worksheets to analyze different child support and spousal support scenarios. These worksheets can provide important background if the case goes before a judge. Bolster your child support negotiations with EzSupport-NY NY matrimonial law software.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in NY Family Law Software | Comments Off

Easy Calculation of Child Support For Adult Children With Disabilities

Divorce law & divorce lawyers tend to focus on typical marital situations: a husband, a wife, and one or more minor children. Existing systems may not be able to handle special situations such severely disabled children, and that is when clients need their family law attorneys to be creative and insightful. The tools in Divorce Financials family law software make it easier to find unique child support arrangements that provide for the needs of the atypical child.

The Special Financial Needs Of Special Needs Kids

Child support laws vary from state to state, but in general they say that parents must care for their children until such time as the children can take care of themselves. When a child has severe disabilities that prevent independent living, then the parent will have to provide care throughout their lives.

This must be considered when negotiating divorce settlements. You may be used to calculating child support that will end when the child is no longer a minor, and may not think about what happens if the child is unable to work or to live alone. It is better to come up with a settlement now that will provide for the child than to end up going back to court in a few years when the child is no longer a minor.

Start With The Basics

State child support laws typically say to use standard minor child support standards when working with adult children. You can start with the child support calculator in your divorce legal software to create a baseline level of support. However you aren’t done.

Adult disabled children may have additional costs such as medical care or specialized training. Parents are the best source of information on what kind of needs the child has. These should be included when calculating child support so you can be sure that all expenses are covered. The core philosophy of child support calculations — and you know this but it bears repeating — is that all decisions should be about the best interest of the child and not the parents.

Child Support vs. Disability Benefits

Disability benefits can affect child support in two ways. In the first, it is appropriate to reduce child support payments if some or all of the child’s financial needs are already being met with these disability payments. Child support obligations are usually reduced by the amount of benefit received on a dollar for dollar basis.

There is also a more serious situation: child support can jeopardize a child’s ability to qualify for these benefits. Some disability programs are income based and child support can make the child ineligible. In that case it would be wise to come up with an alternative, such as moving some of the child support into alimony payments (which would be the parent’s income and not the child’s) or paying the support into a special needs trust.

With Divorce Financials divorce settlement software you can create multiple child support scenarios to find the one that provides the child with the care needed without overburdening the payor, and without threatening the child’s benefit payments.

Find out more about the tools included in Divorce Financials and how they make it easier to create fair and tax-optimized settlements for your clients.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Divorce Financials | Comments Off

Don’t Let The New CFPB Closing Disclosure Drive You Crazy

Real estate closing changes are still months off and yet an article in Origination News reports that lenders are already going “crazy” over the new CFPB closing disclosure statement. The rule modifications that go into affect August 1 are one of the most revolutionary changes to the real estate industry in decades. You don’t have to face the changes alone. Easy Soft is here to help you through the transition with our real estate closing software.

Big Changes Ahead

The closing disclosure statement puts a heavy burden of responsibility on lenders. The new rules and timelines are more rigid with little room for something as simple as a delay in the postal service. Lenders are going to have to start preparing forms earlier in the process, with no way to make corrections at the last minute.

The closing disclosure is not simply a cosmetic update of the old HUD 1 settlement statement. The CFPB has made fundamental changes to closing policies and fee organization that are going to be challenging to real estate professionals who have been completing the HUD 1 for years. Among the changes are that fees must be categorized differently than before and there are no line numbers for easy reference to closing fees. Probably the biggest change is that the closing disclosure combines information from the HUD 1, which was traditionally provided by the title company, and the Truth In Lending statement, which was provided by the lender.

Lenders Taking Over The Process

The bulk of the responsibility and liability falls on the lender’s shoulders. Some big lenders such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America have already announced they will assume greater control of the closing process to be sure the forms are produced correctly and promptly. Smaller lenders such as local credit unions believe they can’t do the same because they don’t have the resources of big lenders.

That latter statement is not true. Inexpensive settlement statement software such as Easy HUD put the right closing tools into the hands of any organization no matter how small. We are in the process of updating Easy HUD to comply with the new regulations and will release it well before the August 1 deadline as a free update to our current subscribers.

Now is the perfect time to join the Easy Soft family. Allow Easy HUD to guide you through the new forms and processes associated with real estate closing so you can be sure you are handling closings correctly.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in HUD Software | Comments Off

Don’t Let Winter Storms Slow Down Your Law Practice

This winter has been tough on many parts of the US, including Northeast and specifically the New England area. One of our customers reported that after the last storm there was eight feet of snow on the ground and he couldn’t get to his office. He was still able to handle his practice from home because he was using a cloud-based version of his Easy Soft software.

Work From Anywhere With The Cloud

All of our products such as Easy HUD real estate settlement software and Divorce Financials family law software come in both cloud and desktop versions. Most of our customers prefer the flexibility and mobility of the cloud versions. When you work in the cloud, you can work from anywhere with an internet connection including your home, a client’s office, the airport or the local coffee shop.

Easy Soft’s cloud-based products use the latest security technology to ensure only authorized users get access and nobody can eavesdrop on your transactions. Your information is stored in professionally managed US-based datacenters that automatically back up your files every day. All authorized users have access to the same client files so you don’t have to worry about different people working on different versions of a matter.

Work In Any Weather

With cloud-based software you don’t have to be in your office to run your practice. Blizzards, floods, power outages, traffic jams and the zombie apocalypse aren’t enough to stop you from taking care of your clients. You get full access to all the features of Easy Soft products from any location. You can produce closing statements, divorce property division calculations or tax-optimized alimony settlements from the comfort of your own home while other attorneys are shoveling their driveways hoping to brave the icy roads.

Timeliness is critical in many legal matters, and inclement weather is not an excuse most judges or clients will accept. A modern law practice needs to be able to operate in any conditions, and Easy Soft cloud-based solutions give you that flexibility.

If you are currently using desktop versions of Easy Soft products, we can help you move your practice to the cloud and you’ll find the cloud software works exactly the same as the desktop version you are familiar with. If you aren’t an Easy Soft customer, now is a good time to try our cloud-based real estate and divorce software for attorneys. Or if you prefer traditional software applications, we will continue to support our desktop products for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Divorce Financials, HUD Software, Other | Comments Off

Counting Retirement In Divorce Assets

It’s imperative to count all assets when calculating a divorce settlement. Anything overlooked today will be challenged tomorrow. Retirement funds can be difficult to account for accurately unless you use tools like the pension buyout calculator in Divorce Financials divorce legal software.

Defined Contribution Plans

Nowadays most employers offer defined contribution plans. The employee contributes a certain amount each month. The employer typically matches employee contributions up to a certain amount, such as 5% of income. What employers like about these plans is they are basically savings accounts. The employer doesn’t have any responsibility for administering them. The employee simply withdraws money upon reaching an appropriate age.

Divorce attorneys love defined contribution plans as well. These assets are easy to value and divide up. A typical strategy would be to look at the value of the account on the date of marriage, subtract that from the value at the date of divorce, and divide by two. That’s how much the spouse gets as part of the overall settlement agreement.

Defined Benefit Plans

Some employers still offer traditional pensions, known as defined benefit plans. Employees don’t contribute directly. Instead employees have to work a certain number of years to become vested and then receive a percentage of their income after retirement. The percentage is based on factors such as years worked and age of retirement. Retirees receive these payments until death.

Defined benefit plans are trickier to value, and not all divorce financial software has the tools to do so. One way to settle is simply to allot a percentage of the payments to the ex-spouse after retirement but this is often unsatisfactory to both parties. The retiree gets a severe financial burden on a reduced salary, and the ex-spouse must wait years or decades to get remuneration. An alternative is to use formulas to determine the present value of the pension based on expected date of retirement, life expectancy, and so on and then pay it out in a lump sum.

Does Retirement Affect Alimony?

Divorcing couples who are close to retirement might prefer to divide up retirement payments rather than divvying up a lump sum, but if that’s the case then attorneys need to consider the change in income in alimony calculations. If alimony will extend past the retirement dates, then it might be appropriate to reduce alimony payments at the time the payer retires since there will be a significant decrease in income. Of course the payee may not see it the same way, so negotiation will be necessary. This is why tools like Divorce Financials, which allows you to prepare multiple alimony payment scenarios, is so important to divorce settlements.

Whatever you do with retirement, do it earlier rather than later. Your client is not going to want to face a challenge to the settlement or alimony agreement years from now. Do all your calculations up front and let the couple move on with their lives.

If you haven’t used Easy Soft’s line of family attorney software by then now is your chance. Download a free trial of Divorce Financials to try the pension calculator and other settlement and alimony tools for yourself.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Divorce Financials | Comments Off