August 2012

Why Can’t My Law Firm Use Generic Accounting Software?

Business owners have an array of choices when it comes to accounting software. The products offer a variety of bookkeeping and billing options that will work with any business. So why should you use dedicated law office billing software like Easy TimeBill?

The problem with generic billing solutions is they are just that: generic. They offer features common to all business models and that’s fine for most companies. After all a toy store and a flower shop deal with the same concepts of inventory, invoicing and taxes and don’t need software tailored to their specific industries.

However legal practices have specialized requirements that only law practice management software can provide. You might be able to cobble together a solution that lets you manage trust accounting or divorce financial settlement with generic billing solutions but it generally means your office has to do more work to ensure all the legal requirements are met. You might be able to drive a nail by hitting it with a wrench, but the job is easier if you use a hammer.

Easy TimeBill allows multiple rate levels for each attorney. Built-in time clocks allow attorneys to easily switch among multiple matters over the course of the day without having to keep complicated paper records of their time on each case. The software automatically compiles hourly charges and expenses for invoices, ensuring each client is billed correctly.

Easy TimeBill is more than just law office billing software. It includes trust accounting features to simplify the process of tracking and reconciling funds for multiple trust matters, even if all funds are pooled in a single trust account. Attorneys can also manage their to-do lists, case notes, and calendars all from one easy-to-use interface. The application includes built-in conflict checking so attorneys won’t inadvertently create a conflict of interest that could jeopardize a case resolution.

Specialized industries require specialized tools. Don’t try to adapt generic software solutions to the unique and meticulous needs of the legal profession. Use only the dedicated law practice management software solutions produced by Easy Soft so you know you are getting all the features you need.

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Billing Software Excuse #4: I Don’t Have Time To Learn New Software

New software can be intimidating, particularly if you aren’t that comfortable with computers in the first place. You are used to handling your practice finances in a certain way and it takes a while to get comfortable with a new tool. You may think you don’t have time to convert to a new system, but it doesn’t take as long to get started with our law office billing software as you might think.

From the beginning we have designed Easy TimeBill with the goal of getting new customers up and running as quickly as possible. The first time you run the software you will be prompted for information about your practice, and the intuitive interface makes it easy to start entering billing and trust accounting transactions immediately. You will quickly discover this software is your one-stop solution for time tracking, invoicing and task management.

If you need some extra assistance fully exploring one of the many features of the law office billing software, online help is a click or key press away. This easily accessible reference is indexed and searchable so you can quickly find the information you need on tasks ranging from recording attorney hours to searching for conflicts of interest to generating billing reports by matter.

We offer additional instruction for clients who want to take a little extra time and learn every aspect of the law office management software in depth. The help menu provides access to a comprehensive manual that describes every feature of Easy TimeBill in easy-to-understand language. This PDF-format document can be viewed online or printed out for easy reference when using the software.

For those of you who prefer a different type of instruction, Easy Soft has a library of dozens of product training videos. These short presentations show you how to use not only our legal billing solution but also the rest of our law office management software family including divorce financial settlement and preparation of HUD forms. View these videos at your convenience to enhance your understanding of our products and increase your practice’s productivity.

Don’t take our word for how easy our time billing software is to use. See for yourself. Download a law practice management software demo and discover how valuable our products can be to your practice.

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Easy HUD Makes Figuring Taxes Fun And Easy

Filling out the HUD-1 form after a real estate transaction is one of the most dreaded tasks in the industry. The HUD-1 form is long and detailed, especially the various tax calculations. Easy Soft’s legal real estate closing software programs take the drudgery out of this essential paperwork and do the math so you don’t have to!

Agents must calculate property transfer taxes and enter them on lines 1203 to 1205 of a HUD-1 form. These taxes differ from state to state so you can’t use a one-size-fits-all software solution. You need an application that has been designed to take into account the unique tax structure of your local area. Easy Soft’s Easy HUD software includes property transfer tax information for over 40 jurisdictions so it is able to calculate proper taxes for nearly any real estate transfer. If you happen to be in an area we haven’t covered yet, contact us and we’ll update the software to include your area. By letting the software do the work, you ensure the figures on the HUD-1 form are correct and accurate.

Of course taxes aren’t that simple. Homeowners must pay an array of charges including city, county, school, condominium and sewer taxes. When property is transferred, the buyer and the seller must each pay a proportion of these taxes relative to the amount of time the property was owned. The paid and unpaid amounts for each party must be calculated and entered in four different areas of the HUD-1 form. Proper recording of these figures ensures that each party pays a fair share of the total expenses.

Calculating the base tax is difficult enough but then prorating based on the date of sale ups the level of difficulty. You aren’t a tax accountant and yet if you make a mistake on the HUD-1 form then you could face fines or other penalties.

Kids, don’t try this at home! Instead let HUD-1 form calculate and prorate the taxes automatically based on the information you enter. The software figures out each party’s share, determines if there has been an underpayment or overpayment, and enters all figures on the relevant lines of the HUD-1 form.

OK, maybe Easy HUD doesn’t actually make real estate taxes fun but we do make them easy. Don’t keep completing HUD forms the hard way. Install Easy Soft legal software programs and let us do the work for you.

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5 Questions About Electronic 1099-S Filing

Each year real estate professionals are required to file IRS Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions, for each successful real estate transaction they were responsible for closing. These forms are not complicated but it can be tedious to fill out dozens of them over a short time, and an error can leave the agency open to legal action and IRS fines.

Software developed by Easy Soft to help with HUD forms simplifies the process, ensuring the 1099-S forms can be produced quickly and accurately. Once the forms are complete, users can print them for mailing but we recommend filing them electronically from within the Easy HUD software. Users new to electronic filing often ask these questions.

Is It Acceptable

The Internal Revenue service accepts electronic versions of any of their forms as long as they are submitted in the right format. Easy Soft’s HUD forms software not only gathers all the information directly from the client file to ensure no errors, but is able to submit the information in the correct format through our 1099-S filing service.

Is It Legal?

In the very early days of digital media there were legal concerns about how tangible electronic HUD forms and other documents were when compared to paper versions. Since then there have been a number of cases confirming that electronic HUD forms and IRS documents are just as valid as their paper counterparts. After all, electronic documents are simply copies of an original and just as valid as a photocopy, fax, microfilm or other duplicate.

Is It Confidential?

You don’t want sensitive client financial information revealed to the public. Not only would that be unprofessional, it would also open your agency to legal liability. Although Easy HUD transmits 1099-S forms to the IRS over the internet, the information is encrypted so it will be gibberish to anyone who manages to intercept it. In fact it is actually safer to transmit 1099-S forms electronically than to mail them, since a mailed form could still end up in unauthorized hands.

Is It Fast?

How fast can you click a mouse? That’s how quickly our software takes information from HUD forms, puts it into the 1099-S format expected by the IRS and transmits it. The document arrives in IRS hands immediately. You know it will be complete and accurate so you don’t have to worry about having to submit a corrected document later.

Is It Expensive?

Enrollment in Easy Soft’s 1099-S electronic submission service is free. When you submit a 1099-S we charge only a nominal $10 fee for each submission. For this small charge you get guaranteed delivery of a verified and complete form.

Electronic 1099-S filling is just one of the services Easy Soft offers to assist in real estate transactions. Find out more about how easy it is to complete HUD forms by contacting Easy Soft, a developer of the best legal software for over 20 years.

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It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over: Mortgage Lien Release Delays And What You Can Do About Them

Homebuyers often assume that a real estate sale is complete once they sign on the dotted line or pay closing costs. Real estate professionals know that mortgage lien release can drag out the process for months after a signing.

Lenders are required to issue a mortgage lien release after a debt is paid by a home sale or a loan refinance. However not all lenders treat mortgage lien release as a high priority and it can take weeks or months for a title to be cleared of liens.

In some cases it is necessary to follow up with the lender aggressively to encourage them to go ahead with the mortgage lien release. However with dozens or hundreds of contracts to monitor it can be difficult to stay on top of every case.

Easy Soft’s mortgage lien release tracking service allows you to close the customer’s file and move on to other clients, secure in the knowledge that we will keep an eye on the situation and inform you of any changes in the lien. The service costs a nominal fee of $35 per mortgage lien release, and that cost can typically be passed on to the seller or borrower so it will cost your company nothing.

To make this task even easier, our mortgage lien release service integrates directly into our Easy HUD real estate closing software. Order the release tracking right from the client’s page in Easy HUD and then close the file. You can assure your client the lien will be released quickly and you don’t have to waste time and money pursuing the matter with uncooperative lenders.

Follow up is just as easy as ordering. Monitor our mortgage lien release results in Easy HUD as easily as you check any other task during closing. We will notify you when the mortgage lien release is filed and link you directly to the payoff document. You can quickly update your records and notify the client.

Simplify and shorten the real estate closing process by trying Easy Soft’s inexpensive HUD 1 preparation software and mortgage lien release tracking service.

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Billing Software Excuse #3: Accounting Is For Accountants

In part three of our series on myths about law office billing software we examine another common reason we hear for attorneys not wanting to use Easy Soft law office management software: lawyers don’t do accounting.

Rather than using law office billing software some practices prefer to hand off all financial matters to an outside accounting firm. Invoices, checks and other financial records are simply shipped off to the bookkeepers and forgotten about.

Although outsourcing is a valid business tactic to allow any business to focus on core tasks, it doesn’t take ultimate responsibility away from managers and the company owner. Managers still need to be aware of the practice’s current financial state. Monthly bookkeeping reports don’t provide information as quickly as in-house law office billing software and that means the firm won’t have time to react to sudden financial events.

Law office billing software gives law firms the ability to keep abreast of the practice’s financial condition. At a glance authorized users can see outstanding invoices, balances owed by client, and easily record time and expenses incurred on a case. The law office management software is so easy to use that in many cases it actually takes less time for attorneys to enter information themselves than to pass records to a bookkeeper.

In fact practices often find that law office billing software makes the practice’s bookkeeping so simple they can do without outside financial help. Not only do the firms have a better understanding of the organization’s cash flow, but they can save money by not hiring unneeded financial services.

Of course even the best law office billing software can’t take the place of a qualified and certified professional. We recommend you consult with an accountant periodically to ensure your organization’s finances are on the right track. The frequency of consultation will depend on the size of your organization. Single-attorney practices might be fine seeing an accountant once a year while large firms might need monthly meetings.

However law office billing software takes the drudgery out of day-to-day bookkeeping as well as providing powerful tools designed to help you track expenses, bill clients and collect fees owed. Find out more about Easy Soft’s law office management software by downloading a demo or contacting us for information.

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