Why Is Lifestyle Analysis Important In A Divorce?

As a divorce attorney you already know that an accurate lifestyle analysis is a key component in getting a fair settlement. You probably don’t also have a CPA along with your law degree, but you can depend on the lifestyle analysis tools in Divorce Financials family law software to do the work for you.

First let’s establish just why a lifestyle analysis is important:

  • Prove Financial Need – When presented with the question of how much money it costs to live, many people just shrug. Money comes in. Money goes out. As long as you don’t bounce checks, it’s all good, right? A lifestyle analysis puts a number to a person’s lifestyle, and that number will strengthen settlement negotiations.
  • Learn The Truth – People lie. The ex is lying to trying to hold onto assets, but your client is probably lying too. Numbers don’t lie. A lifestyle analysis is an objective and provable documentation of a couple’s assets and expenses.
  • Find Hidden Assets – It is possible to hide money in offshore accounts or by giving cash to a friend to hold until a divorce is over. Tracking the money through a lifestyle analysis may not find the money, but it will find the cash flow. Then you can ask the spouse just what happened to that half million dollars that has slowly been disappearing from martial accounts over the years.

Divorce Financials divorce legal software makes lifestyle analysis easy, even for non-accountants. All you need is a few bank and credit card statement. From the Lifestyle Analysis page:

  • Select “Bank Accounts” or “Credit Card Accounts” as appropriate
  • Click “Add New” and type the name of the institution that holds the account
  • Select the account and click “Add New” to add a bank statement. Fill in the statement end date, starting balance and ending balance.
  • Select the statement and click “Add Transaction”. Enter each transaction on the statement: the date, payee, amount and category. Click “Exempt” if it is a transaction that should not be considered in the lifestyle analysis, such as a one-time expense.

Within minutes you will have a complete financial picture for the couple. The more statements you have, the more accurate your lifestyle analysis will be. Divorce Financials family lawyer software streamlines the process so that in simple cases, you won’t need an outside accountant.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Divorce Financials | Comments Off

Expected Real Estate Trends In 2015

The economy continues to improve, which is a huge relief after the Great Recession. Real estate professionals need to be ready for these changes if they want to serve their clients better. Realtor.com made some predictions about the 2015 real estate market. Like all predictions they may or may not come true, but one thing is definitely going to change: the HUD 1 settlement sheet.

Predicted Housing Trends For 2015

Realtor.com foresees five important changes in the market in the new year:

1) Mortgage rates will rise as the economy improves. Economists predict as early as mid-year, the Federal Reserve will nudge up interest rates and that will affect mortgage rates. We expect this to lead to a surge of purchases and refis as consumers try to get ahead of the higher rates.

2) Millennials will become the largest group of homebuyers. These young buyers have limited credit histories and will have difficulty with today’s credit standards, which are tougher compared to a few years ago.

3) New home construction will increase, especially single-family homes, but will still be limited by labor and material shortages.

4) High credit standards will continue to hold back the market. Real estate professionals will need a good understanding of the lending options if they want to put their clients into new homes.

5) Foreclosure inventories will drop as the last vestiges of the mortgage crises fade.

Changes To Housing Forms

One change that the market will definitely see is a change in the paperwork associated with the purchase or sale of a home as the HUD-1 settlement statement is replaced by the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms. The simpler documents developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will become required starting on August 1, 2015.

Easy Soft will be releasing a major update to Easy HUD to accommodate these new forms. You will get the same power and easy-to-use features you have been using for years, but will be able to print the new CFPB documents instead of the hold HUD forms.

The market is always changing, which is why it’s important to stay current on financial and consumer trends at all times and not just at the beginning of the year. However the New Year is a good time to evaluate the market and your practice to ensure your business is still relevant to market conditions. Trust Easy HUD settlement statement software to change along with you and offer the best tools you can find for real estate closings.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in HUD Software | Comments Off

Realtor.com Predicts Surge In First Time Buyers In 2015

Realtor.com predicts we are going to see a surge in first time homebuyers in 2015. First time buyers need a little more guidance than experienced buyers do and it helps if you have HUD settlement statement software like Easy HUD to ease the closing process.

The stricter lending requirements that came out of the great real estate crisis in this country have discouraged new buyers from the dream of home ownership. Realtor.com points to two upcoming changes that will make buying a house more attractive: mortgage qualifications and low down payments.

New Qualification Guidelines – The reforms that were enacted to protect homebuyers as a result of the mortgage crisis might have looked good to a politician but they were confusing to buyers and lenders alike. Banks were concerned that Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac could reject a mortgage years after the fact, leaving the lender in the hot seat, so it has been hard to secure a loan without stellar credit. Realtor.com points to one study that shows lenders were routinely denying loans to applicants with credit scores more than a hundred points higher than the minimums defined by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Both organizations released new standards in December that clarify what is necessary to qualify for a mortgage, and that should make lenders breath a little easier.

Low Down Payments – Long ago homebuyers needed a 20% down payment to buy a house, but that changed. One of the reasons cited for the mortgage crisis was the plethora of low or no down payment loans, so lenders started insisting on more money up front than they used to. This has proven to be a significant barrier to buyers who don’t have a previous home to sell, so we are going to see the return of carefully crafted low down payment mortgages. Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac will be offering guarantees that allow private lenders to offer mortgages with down payments as low as 3% for first time buyers.

With this expected rise in buyers new to the housing market, real estate professionals can expect a lot of questions.  The HUD-1 settlement statement can be confusing even to experienced professionals, so imagine what it is like to someone who’s never seen one before. The advantage of using Easy HUD is you can complete the form more quickly, giving you more time to take the client through it and explain charges in detail.

Find out how real estate settlement software simplifies your real estate practice and speeds up closing — download a demo and take the software for a  test drive.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in HUD Software | Comments Off

Four Women Who Refused Alimony

An article in Forbes magazine talked about three women who have refused alimony they would have been awarded. Not only are alimony laws changing, such as the recent elimination of permanent alimony in New Jersey, but society’s attitudes towards alimony as part of divorce and financial settlements is changing as well.

A Fourth Woman’s Story

A member of the Easy Soft team has a similar story. His parents divorced in 1976 after eighteen years of marriage. His mother had given up her education career to stay home and raise their four children. Her teaching credentials were long expired and her college degree from the 1950s all but useless in the job market, so she was facing a tough road. Despite that, she refused when her lawyer said she should ask for alimony as part of the settlement, saying it wasn’t her husband’s job to support her anymore.

She wasn’t left destitute. There was a division of property, including the family house that was paid out monthly rather than in a lump sum. So she did receive a type of support, but it was a finite amount, and it was from assets she had helped earn. The payments lasted about eight years, enough time for her to get enough job experience to end up in a career in the state government that lasted until she retired.

More Options Means Faster Resolution

Even if the law says one spouse is entitled, alimony may not be the best choice especially when children are involved. As Forbes reader Michel Buhler commented on the article, “the lack of alimony allows co-parents to actually parent and forge positive relationships for their kids”. Other options such as increasing child support or monthly property settlement payments might be healthier to the family dynamic.

Easy Soft’s Divorce Financials software doesn’t lock you into traditional alimony calculations if you don’t want them. You can create multiple scenarios that examine the division of assets and liabilities, as well as the awarding of spousal or child support. You can even calculate the tax implications of an arrangement — child support is non-taxable so might be more advantageous than alimony to the recipient. When you bring so many options to the negotiation table, you are more likely to find a solution that is fairer to everyone involved.

Family attorney software should be more than a simple alimony calculator. Features such as lifestyle analysis, pension valuation, and the tax tradeoffs of alimony vs. child support are critical if you want to be able to present comprehensive and reasonable settlements. Find out more about Divorce Financials and how it can streamline your family law practice.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in Divorce Financials | Comments Off

Was Easy Soft Software Used In A Billion Dollar Divorce?

Oil tycoon Harold Hamm was ordered by a court in November to pay his ex-wife nearly one billion dollars as a part of their divorce settlement. The property involved included four multi-million dollar homes, an airport hangar as well as items as mundane as a geode in quartz display. Did his attorneys used Divorce Financials family lawyer software to evaluate the property and calculate the settlement?

Well, no, probably not. Lawyers in billionaire divorces generally have teams of accountants poring over stacks of documents and using very expensive accounting software packages. However would it have been possible to use Divorce Financials in this divorce? Maybe.

You can enter assets and liabilities with values of up to $9,999,999,999.99 each — that’s just under $10 billion if you lost track of the commas — and Divorce Financials can work with total assets or liabilities in the hundreds of billions. Each asset can be given individual distributions, either by dollar value or by percentage. What more do you need from divorce financial software?

Then again most billionaires, unlike Mr. Hamm, have prenuptial agreements that make these calculations unnecessary. However he was a starry-eyed, middle-aged mere millionaire when he married his future wife so maybe he was still young enough to take a chance on love.

Mr. Hamm came by most of his billions through a single underground reservoir of oil on some land he purchased. One of the key points during the trial was whether this strike was skill or luck. If it were skill, then Oklahoma law says that his wife would share in that money. If it were luck, then it would not be considered marital property and the money would be Mr. Hamm’s but not Mrs. Hamm’s. Using Divorce Financials, his attorneys could have set up different scenarios that used distribution schemes pending the court’s ruling, or could have come up with distributions that would satisfy both parties without the need of a judge.

Whether your clients are fighting over multi-billion dollar oil reserves or that set of dishes they bought at a flea market ten years ago, you need to be able to inventory and value all assets and liabilities to come up with a fair property settlement. Divorce Financials divorce software for attorneys gives you those capabilities as well as tools to value pensions or lump-sum alimony, and to calculate the tax implications of alimony and child support scenarios.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in Divorce Financials | Comments Off

Are You Ready For A New Kind Of Home Buyer?

On December 1, Zillow published their forecast for the 2015 housing market. They say that skyrocketing rents will make home ownership more attractive than it has been in recent years, that there will be a surge in the construction of more affordable homes, and that for the first time Millennials will outpace Gen-Xers as the largest group of home buyers. The latter prediction is one reason you should be using HUD 1 software like Easy HUD.

Millennials Love Technology

Our experience has been that Gen-Xers may like their technology but Millennials insist on it. The generation that is moving away from newspapers in favor of online news on their tablets, away from cash in favor of payment apps, and away from physical media in favor of streaming movies and music doesn’t have much patience for the traditional way of doing things.

A real estate professional who clings to inefficient, outdated methods is going to come across as hopelessly out of touch to a new generation of technophiles. Completing a paper HUD settlement statement by hand would be like touring houses from your horse and buggy. You might as well pull out your quill pen to fill out the paperwork. Embracing new technology is going to become a necessity to attract a new breed of home buyer.

You Love Technology (Or You Will After Using Easy HUD)

The thing is that using Easy HUD rather than filling out paper closing forms isn’t just something you do to impress the kids. You do it because it streamlines your practice and allows you to close faster. Your client is happy because less time is wasted on bureaucratic tasks and you love it because you can handle more transactions than you could using old, manual methods.

That isn’t all. Additional modules turn Easy HUD into a comprehensive real estate tool that produces accurate and professional-looking correspondence, simplifies keeping a transaction ledger, and makes 1099-S filing as easy as clicking a button. Once you use it, you’ll wonder how you got along without it for so long.

Markets change. It could be due to technology, economics, politics, cultural changes or any one of a thousand other factors. You have to be prepared to adapt to it. Arm yourself with Easy HUD real estate closing software to be ready for the new market. Not convinced? Try it free for 30 days and find out for yourself how fast and easy real estate closing can be.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in HUD Software | Comments Off