July 2012

Faster Real Estate Closing Means Better Profits For Your Agency

Real estate transactions involve a lot of paperwork. These documents protect the buyer, seller, agents and everyone else involved but they are also tedious to complete. The time real estate agents squander laboriously filling out HUD forms could be better spent finding new clients or buying and selling more homes.

You could use Microsoft Word or a fillable PDF form to help you complete these documents. These produce great looking final results and give you benefits such as spell check and template forms pre-populated with common information, but they don’t provide the kind of error checking and cross-referencing needed for HUD forms. You could still make errors like misspelling a client’s name, and you will still need to pull all the needed information from your records.

A better solution is to use dedicated legal software programs like Easy HUD, which have been designed to serve the real estate industry. These programs ensure you meet compliance with RESPA and other laws when completing your HUD forms. But these applications do more than just allow you to fill out and print forms.

Why should you do all the calculations required on HUD forms by hand when you have a computer right there? Features integrated into the real estate software take the numbers you enter, such as sale price and tax amounts and calculate all final closing costs. This saves time and eliminates the chance of arithmetic errors.

Once you have completed your HUD forms you can print checks or a 1099-S form as well as a variety of reports. Easy HUD can also file the 1099-S with the IRS electronically.

Easy Soft legal software programs are designed to work together and that saves you even more time. Easy HUD integrates with Easy Trust or QuickBooks to simply your trust accounting tasks.

With all these functions our clients say that they are able to complete HUD forms in a third of the time it would take to do them by hand and with fewer errors. Contact an Easy Soft representative today to find out more about how our legal software programs save your agency time and money, and improve your company’s bottom line.

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What Is The Biggest Mistake You Can Make On The New York Statement Of Net Worth?

Divorce settlements require a statement of net worth to ensure fair division of property and calculation of child support. TheNew Yorkstatement of net worth is a 14-page, excruciatingly-detailed document that can make even an experienced accountant’s head swim. Filling it out is a chore, and that chore is made even worse every time you make an error.

You can fill out the New York statement of net worth by hand, laboriously entering information into literally hundreds of blank spaces on the form. If you enter the wrong amount, put information on the wrong line, or even write a 3 that looks like an 8 then you have to fix the error. So you messily cross it out and write in the correct information, or you use correction fluid for a cleaner-looking fix. However you do it, the form ends up looking sloppy and could even be challenged in a bitter divorce. Besides, who uses paper forms anymore? Are you going to fill them out by candlelight with a quill pen?

The New York court system offers online divorce forms so that should make it easier to fill out theNew York statement of net worth, right? They have a PDF version, but it’s not a fillable PDF. In fact it’s simply a very poor scan of a paper form you will still have to print out and complete by hand. They offer a Word Perfect version. Really? Word Perfect? That’s nearly as old as the quill pen. Finally they provide an Omni-Form version, but that doesn’t work with web browsers other than Internet Explorer plus the “document” you save is actually an executable file that contains the Omni-Form software. Many email systems won’t accept .exe attachments so you will be unable to send the form to anyone.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was some kind of law practice management software that allowed you to easily fill out the New York statement of net worth, integrate it with other NY family law forms so you don’t have to enter the same information a thousand times, and then save the form in standard digital formats like Word or PDF? Oh wait, there is!

Check out how easy it is to complete the New Yorkstatement of net worth and other NY family law forms with Easy Soft products. If you aren’t practicing in New York you might be interested in our products tailored to PA family law forms and AZ family law forms.

The biggest mistake you can make on the New York statement of net worth is not using Easy Soft products!

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How To Calculate Child Support For NY Divorces

The Child Support Standards Act lays out formulas to calculate child support for NY couples that are divorcing. This legislation contains formulas to calculate each parent’s reasonable contribution to the child’s financial welfare including adjustments for employee expenses and Social Security income. Once the parents’ incomes are calculated on NY family law forms, the basic support for the child is calculated as a percentage of the combined income based on the number of children:

One child: 17%

Two children: 25%

Three children: 29%

Four children: 31%

Five children: 35% or more

This amount is allocated to each parent based on that parent’s income. If one parent makes twice as much as the other, for example, that parent would be expected to shoulder twice the child support obligation.

However this isn’t the end of it. Child support for NY divorces is adjusted for three special cases: childcare, healthcare and the child’s education.

If the custodial parent incurs childcare costs as a result of working, seeking work or seeking education in order to find a job then these expenses are added to the child support amount and allocated to each parent based on income.

Health insurance premiums and medical expenses not covered by insurance such as copayments or deductibles are also added to child support for NY divorces and allocated to each parent based on income.

Finally if the child is going to college then child support is adjusted based on expenses incurred as part of the child’s education.

These extra factors complicate the calculation of child support for NY parents which is why so many family law attorneys use legal software programs to perform the calculations for them. They enter the information and the proper and equitable support amount is automatically calculated.

Of course New York is not the only state with special exceptions for child support. AZ child support calculation includes different adjustments for childcare and education as well as a 10% bonus for teenage children. PA child support calculation takes into account mortgage payments and multiple families.

All of these rules and exceptions can confuse even an experienced family law attorney. Don’t take chances with your clients’ rights. Download demos of our legal software programs and see for yourself just how easy we make calculation of child support for NY, AZ or PA.

 

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Save A Tree…And Save Money Too!

Every time I hear about how computers running the best legal software will give us the paperless office I have visions of an engineer in the 1940s looking at ENIAC, the world’s first electronic computer, and proudly declaring this 30-ton monstrosity would someday replace the file cabinet.

In the early days, law practice management software probably increased rather than decreased the amount of paper in a law firm. It was easy to print ten copies of that report that nobody would ever read. However as legal software programs became more sophisticated, law firms implemented policies on document control, and courts declare that electronic documents were as admissible as paper ones the paperless office became a real possibility.

Now I’ll admit that saving trees is a noble goal, but let’s be honest. We all have businesses to run and we need to know we are saving more than trees by abandoning paper in favor of law practice management software. As it turns out, computerizing your practice is one of the best business decisions you can make.

The legal system loves its documentation. The outcome of a case may hinge on a single sentence in thousand pages of depositions, or on a single figure in a complicated divorce financial settlements. And once a case is over you can’t just shred the evidence because there might be appeals or other legal action years down the road.

With law practice management software you don’t need to pay for a warehouse to store years of paper files and other documentation. Today you could probably fit all of the documentation an attorney would see over an entire career on an electronic storage device small enough to fit in your pocket.

Electronic documents have another big advantage over paper ones: backups. If you have a thousand pages of testimony, how long will it take to photocopy another copy for storage in case the original is destroyed? Law practice management software can take an electronic copy of that same document, make a copy and send it to a secure storage facility a thousand miles away in a matter of seconds. Even a Katrina-sized disaster can’t destroy both the original and the multiple copies stored all over the country.

Contact us to find out more how law practice management software helps you store and retrieve HUD forms, divorce financial settlements and other legal documents quickly, safely and inexpensively.

And save a few trees along the way.

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Billing Software Excuse #1: I Don’t Want To Know How Little I Bill

During the 21 years Easy Soft has been providing law office management software we have found a few practices resistant to adopting products such as law office billing software and we’ve tried to understand why. We know our applications help law practices run more efficiently, so why would anyone stick to an antiquated billing system. This is the first in a series of posts where we examine and disprove some of the myths about law office billing software.

Some attorneys have admitted to use that law office billing software simply reminds them how little progress they make some days. We’ve all had days where we work and work and work, and yet when we look back we realize we didn’t accomplish very much. When you enter those hours into law office billing software you have to face up to how few billable hours you worked, and that is demoralizing after a long, exhausting day.

Don’t blame your legal software programs. The law office billing software is not source of the trouble, nor is it merely the messenger. In fact the application and the analytical tools it provides are important components of the solution to the problem of low billable hours.

Ask yourself why you are billing so few hours. What are you doing with your day that is eating up your time with non-billable work? Enter all your hours, including non-billable time, into the law office billing software so you have a clear picture of how you spend your time. Then go over your typical day and find tasks that should be shifted onto a paralegal, secretary or other employee of the firm. This frees you up to spend more time being an attorney rather than an expensive office clerk.

Easy Soft law office management software is designed to allow you take control of your practice and your time so you can run a lean office, increase your profits, and find more time to help your clients.

Stay tuned for future entries on law office billing software excuses. In the meantime, head on over and download a demo of our law office billing software and find out just how intuitive and helpful it is.

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How Conflict Check Protects Your Practice From Embarrassment…And Legal Action

You spend weeks or months preparing a strong case. You show up in court confident of your ability to represent your client’s interests. However before you can present your argument, the opposing counsel stands up and points out a critical conflict of interest that calls into question your firm’s suitability to represent that client and argue the case. At best this is professionally humiliating moment; at worst it could lead to ethics charges.

No matter how honest and careful you are about avoiding conflicts, do you really remember every single person you have dealt with in your career and all of their associations? A missed connection might be a genuine oversight on your part, but last time we checked “oops” was not considered a strong legal defense.

You need to be scrupulous about avoiding conflict, and yet laboriously checking through hundreds or thousands of case files takes an enormous amount of time and past associations are easy to overlook. Hey, wait a minute–aren’t computers good at those kinds of tedious jobs?

Easy Soft’s law office billing software, Easy TimeBill, does more than simply track your billable hours and expenses. This law practice management software maintains a database of the names of every person your firm has associated with, including clients, witnesses and vendors, as well as their associations with your past and present clients. In seconds you can discover any conflicts that might undermine your case or threaten your firm.

Then again even the best legal software can’t do all the work for you. Our law office billing software conflict checker is thorough, but it still depends on you doing your part. Successful conflict discovery requires three easy steps.

First, create a thorough list of contact names for each case and enter them into Easy TimeBill. To find the contact list click on “Case Management” in the lower left corner of the law office billing software screen and then on “Address Book” in the upper left.

Second, link each contact with the client in a case. Click on “Client” in the lower left corner of the law office billing software screen and then on the client name listed in the upper left section of the screen. Click on “Client Relations”, which is listed along the top of the screen, to bring up current relations and add new ones.

Third, run the law office billing software conflict checker. As in the previous section, click on “Client” and then the client name, but this time click on “Conflict Search” in the top bar to bring up the search screen. Enter search text such as the name of new client’s firm to see if there is any conflict with previous cases.

You must be diligent about entering complete information on every client no matter how trivial the case might seem at the time. It takes only one missed contact to create a serious problem for your practice.

Conflict Check is one of many features included in Easy Soft’s law practice management software. Contact us for more information on our products or try a demo of one of our legal software programs.

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