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

Stop The End Of The Year 1099-S Filing Frenzy

How did your 1099 filings go for 2014? Did you find yourself frantically trying to get all the forms out at the end of the year? If so then you should look into electronic 1099-S filing services.

Stop The End Of The Year Filing Frenzy

The traditional way of filling 1099-S forms is to put all your documentation aside and then address them all at the end of the year. For some practices this might seem more efficient as you handle all the forms at the same time. For others, it’s just procrastination. Nobody likes filing tax forms and it’s easier to put them off until tomorrow.

However this can mean you end up with a big stack of filings at the end of the year. As the deadline approaches you find you are struggling to get the documents filled out on time. The forms aren’t complicated, but completing dozens of them over a short time is tedious and exhausting. Not only that but an error can lead to unwanted attention from the IRS.

Electronic Filing

The IRS not only allows but actually encourages real estate professionals to file their 1099-S forms electronically rather than on paper. It’s faster and more efficient for everyone, including the tax people. Since it’s so easy, you are more likely to file the 1099-S as part of the closing process rather than waiting until the end of the year.

Electronic filing is safe and easy. You get an immediate confirmation number so you know the form has been received and you can close the file. You save time and are less likely to make errors or overlook the form on one of your transactions for the year.

Easy Soft’s 1099-S Service

For a nominal fee per transaction, you can file your 1099-S forms through Easy Soft’s electronic service. The capability is built right into Easy HUD and that gives you many advantages. The form automatically pulls information from the HUD settlement statement so you won’t make errors. Since it’s available from within the software you are already using for closing, it’s easy to just click a button and get the filing over with. Forms will be sent to the IRS and the seller so your responsibility is taken care of.

Other features include a log of submissions. You can go over this log at the end of the year to make sure all of your forms were filed. If you missed one, all you have to do is pull up the case file in Easy HUD and file immediately.

Integrated 1099-S filing is just one of the many optional features you’ll find in our Easy HUD software. Don’t wait until the end of the year. Enroll now so you can start filing your 1099-S forms right away.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in HUD Software | Comments Off

New CFPB Closing Forms Might Need To Be Filed Earlier

The changes to real estate closing forms that are coming up August 1, 2015 will have farther reaching implications than simply filling in different boxes on a piece of paper. You may have to change some of your work flows to accommodate changes in the law. Easy HUD settlement statement software can help you stay on track.

The new system laid out by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) specifies two forms that must be provided to consumers as part of the real estate process. The Loan Estimate replaces the early Truth in Lending statement and Good Faith Estimate, and must be provided within three business days of filing a loan application. The Closing Disclosure replaces the final Truth in Lending Statement and the HUD 1 settlement sheet, and must be provided three business days before closing a loan.

Note that the new rules specify “business days”. A business day is defined by the rules as any day other than Sunday or federal holidays.

How do you ensure the consumer receives the form three days before closing? Ideally you hand deliver it and get a receipt to show proof of delivery. However you are a busy professional and you may think that email is good enough, right? Well, maybe.

If you deliver the Closing Disclosure by postal mail or email, then you need to allow another three days for delivery. Make sure you understand that: you need to provide three days for delivery even for email. That means your lead time is now six days before closing: the original three-day requirement plus a three-day delivery time.

A six-day lead time guarantees you will have to account for Sundays and that means adding a day for a seven-day lead time. No matter what weekday you close on, if you count six days back that will include a Sunday somewhere so you have to give an extra day. If you happen to cross a federal holiday then you add one more day, and now you have an eight-day lead time.

Rather than trying to count out days each time, it’s probably going to be best to simply always send the form out eight days before closing. By using the worst case scenario, you don’t have to worry about getting in trouble because you forgot about Labor Day or Presidents’ Day.

These are the kinds of modifications to your workflow you should be thinking about now, even though the changes are months away. Make the changes now so you can smoothly transition to the new forms once the HUD settlement statement goes away and Easy Soft updates Easy HUD with the new CFPB forms.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in HUD Software | Comments Off

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