March 2013

Billing Software That Is Simple But Not Simple-Minded

Computers are supposed to make our lives easier. Unfortunately they often don’t. Many software packages are confusing and hard to use. They have such steep learning curves that it’s faster to scribble a few notes on paper than spend an hour figuring out how to do it with a computer. But not with Easy Soft products. Our design philosophy is to create time and billing software for lawyers, not for Computer Science majors.

Easy TimeBill has been developed from the ground up with the end user in mind. You’re an attorney not a computer programmer. You just want to open up the lawyer billing software and enter your hours and expenses without a lot of fuss, complicated commands, or confusing menus. That’s exactly what you can do with our software. You’ll be up and running within minutes.

“Easy” doesn’t mean Easy TimeBill is dumbed down. This isn’t “baby’s first legal billing and accounting software”. It’s a robust and full-featured financial program tailored to the billing, reporting and trust accounting needs of the modern law practice. However the complexity is in the underlying program and not in the interface. Using the software is quick and easy, with plenty of help included in the program and lots of videos and articles on our website to help you get the most from the software.

We’ve even taken away most of the technical headaches innate in traditional software by offering our attorney time and billing software in a cloud version. You don’t have to worry about installation, updates, system compatibility, backups or any of those other details. We handle all of that. You can focus on running your practice rather than tearing your hair out trying to figure out why your computer hates you. This is a huge bonus for small practices that can’t afford to hire professional IT personnel but is also a great help to larger firms since they can operate with a smaller technical staff.

The role of law practice management software should be to make your job easier rather than harder. If your current software isn’t doing that–or if you aren’t using software at all–then it’s time for you to discover the software tools essential for today’s law firms. Try any of our titles free for 30 days and you’ll see how easy and valuable these products are.

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8 Benefits of Electronic 1099-S Filing

It’s no secret that real estate sales involve a lot of paperwork. After completing the HUD-1 settlement statement agents still need to file 1099-S form with the IRS. Although you can send in paper forms the IRS is encouraging filers to submit the documents electronically. There are several reasons why electronic 1099-S filling is the better choice for real estate professionals because it is:

1) Easy – Easy HUD not only helps you complete the HUD closing statement but also handles 1099-S e-filing. The software automatically takes all the information you’ve already entered and completes the form for you.

2) Fast – File your 1099-S form with the click of a button. The file is transmitted securely to the IRS and you receive an immediate confirmation number so you know the document was received.

3) Accurate – When you copy information from the HUD 1 statement to a paper 1099-S you run the risk of making errors that will cause the IRS to reject the form and force you to re-file. You have better things to do with your day than submit multiple tax forms so make sure it’s right the first time.

4) Green – Save a tree by not using paper forms. E-filing has virtually zero environmental impact.

5) Affordable – Enrollment in our 1099-S e-filing program is free. You pay only a small flat fee for each filing with no hidden costs.

6) Timely – You can file 1099-S forms as you complete transactions over the course of the year. Real estate offices that use paper forms tend to put them off, and find themselves struggling to get all the submissions in before the annual deadline.

7) Mobile – The cloud version of our legal practice software can be used anywhere you have an internet connection. You don’t have to wait to get back to the office to file. You can transmit the forms from anywhere.

8) Safe – Electronically-filed 1099-S forms are as safe as or even safer than forms sent through the mail.

Contact Easy Soft to find out more about how our HUD settlement statement software and 1099-S electronic filing service saves your office time, protects you from errors and helps you stay on top of IRS filing requirements.

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Working From Anywhere: The Best And Worst Feature Of Cloud Software

We often tout the flexibility of the cloud versions of our software. You can get access to client and practice information from your office, your home, the courthouse, a coffee shop or anywhere else. However just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should!

Tools like cloud-based time and billing software for lawyers give attorneys the power to take control of their work-life balance. Unfortunately it can also utterly disrupt that balance by effectively putting attorneys in the office at all times.

It’s great to have the option to be available 24/7 when you need to be. It might be the type of practice you are in, a specific case that is changing rapidly, or just a client who brings a ton of money into your firm every year so requires extra attention. Cloud-based attorney practice management software gives you easy and secure access to case files from anywhere with an internet connection, and time and billing software ensures you record this out-of-the-office time accurately.

However you have to know when to turn the computer off. Have dinner with the family. Watch Junior’s softball game. Go to a movie. Relax. You are allowed to take time to yourself and you will be a better attorney for it.

Vacations can be especially tricky. You tell your clients to contact you only if it’s an emergency–but clients always think it’s an emergency! Yes, you should check your email while on vacation. No, you shouldn’t check it hourly. If possible filter all communication through another attorney who you can trust to pass on only the actual emergencies. If you do need to handle something, tools like attorney time and billing software give you the resources you need to practice, and also the option not to.

We’ve all heard the cliché: Nobody lies on his death bed wishing he’d spent more time at work. Contact us to find out more about how Easy Soft legal software for attorneys gives you choices in how you balance your practice and your personal responsibilities…but also learn to recognize when the right choice is to close the computer and have a life.

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When Is Equal Not Equitable?

Divorcing couples are often surprised to find out that their assets are not simply divided down the middle. Most states require that martial assets be divided equitably not necessarily equally, a distinction that can complicate divorce proceedings. Each spouse has a different idea of what “equitable” means and that is why attorneys use divorce settlement software to create multiple divorce scenarios. Several issues complicate property division.

What’s Mine Is Yours…Except When It’s Not – Most assets obtained during the divorce are considered jointly owned. However gifts given to one spouse might be considered that spouse’s individual property and not subject to property settlement. Unfortunately the situation is not always clear. For example if a spouse receives an inheritance that would normally be separate property, but if that inheritance is deposited in a joint account it may be considered a joint asset.

I Love Our Dog More Than You Do – Family pets are often fought over as much as the children are. For an average mutt this is merely an emotional issue, but a purebred animal might also have a significant monetary value. Even if the dog is considered the family pet, if one spouse shouldered the burden of responsibility for the animal’s care that spouse might be considered to own more than half of the animal.

You Cheated! – Spouses are often surprised to find adultery, abuse or other behaviors don’t affect division of assets. However there is one kind of cheating that will be a factor and that is financial fraud. If a spouse’s actions affected the family’s finances the court might award the other spouse a larger percentage of the estate.

We could go on but you get the idea. Family assets are more than just numbers to be entered into family law software, totaled and divided by two. The more complex the situation, the more difficult it is to get a resolution. It’s generally the best for all parties if some agreement can be reached without having to resort to a judge’s order that is likely to leave both spouses feeling cheated.

Divorce software for attorneys allows lawyers to present multiple scenarios to the opposing party. By putting a personal value on certain assets and by working with their clients to decide what can be sacrificed and what must be saved, they can boil the complex property division into several offers.

Family law offices that use settlement statement software are able to reach settlements more quickly, and find solutions that are fairer to their clients. Download a demo of our law firm software to see all the features we provide to the modern family law practice.

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Software For Real Estate Clients

Our focus at Easy Soft is software to help real estate agents and attorneys automate and simplify their practices so they can serve their clients better. However we’re going to do something shocking–refer you to someone else’s products! Recently, as part of National Consumer Protection Week, HUD released two mobile apps distressed homeowners can use to get the help they need.

HUD Counselor Lookup allows consumers to find HUD-approved counselors to help them learn their rights, evaluate their current financial situation and find tools to help them meet their goals. HUD-approved counselors provide impartial advice to home buyers, homeowners and renters. This app makes it easy for anyone to find an agency in the local area or anywhere in the country.

The other HUD program is the Housing Discrimination Complaint Application, which makes it easy for people to notify HUD when they have been discriminated against during they buying, financing or renting process. After customers use the app to file the complaint, an intake specialist will contact the filer for an interview to see if HUD can proceed with the investigation.

Both of these apps are available as free downloads and work on the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. See the links above for specific requirements. To be clear, Easy Soft has no affiliation with the development of these apps or with the Apple Store. We just thought they were neat little free tools.

These apps are targeted at consumers but can be useful for real estate professionals as well. They serve as valuable components of a software toolkit that also includes Easy Soft HUD settlement statement software and other legal management software.

Our RESPA software is meant for real estate professionals but we indirectly help clients as well. Agents and attorneys who use our products are able to file HUD paperwork more quickly. The forms are more likely to be complete and correct, minimizing the chance of errors that can slow down the purchase or refinance process. Plus the software keeps an eye out to be sure nobody inadvertently violates HUD rules.

Check out these HUD apps for yourself–and be sure to look at Easy Soft’s real estate title software too! If you aren’t using our tools already, then download a free demo to see how simple HUD paperwork can be.

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You Can’t Put Off Figuring Out Deferred Compensation

If divorces were easy, then a lot of attorneys would be out of business. The “add it up and divide by two” split seldom happens in real life. One situation that gives family law attorneys headaches is trying to figure out how to list deferred compensation on the New Jersey CIS.

Deferred compensation is a benefit given to an employee such as company stock. What makes it deferred is the employee doesn’t get the full value of the asset up front, but rather over a period of years. For example an employee might get 20% of the value of the stock option per year for five years. When the attorney goes to list this in the Case Information Statement software, how should it be listed?

If the asset is fully vested, meaning the employee could cash it in for its full value, then it’s simply an asset. Typically that means it’s divided equitably between the spouses like any other asset that can be assigned a simple monetary value. The compensation often can’t be transferred to the other spouse so the earning spouse might “buy” that asset with another asset, or set up a trust to handle the bookkeeping.

What if it is partially vested? Do you split it all or only the vested portion? Probably neither since the other spouse shouldn’t be entitled to either none or all of the non-vested portion. Attorneys will use an equation to determine what is fair for each spouse, but each attorney is likely to come up with a different number.

Here’s another problem: if you list the compensation as an asset then you can’t also consider it as income when calculating child support, even though it’s listed on the earning spouse’s W-2. Maybe it would be better to treat it as income.

This is a perfect example of why today’s attorneys need fully-featured New Jersey family law software, such as Easy Soft’s CIS, that allows them to create multiple asset/income scenarios and evaluate them under that state’s divorce laws.

What if you come to the bargaining table with a set of offers but the opposing attorney has different ideas? If you are using the cloud version of the NJ matrimonial software you can evaluate the offer right there and even come up with a counteroffer within minutes. This gives a speedy resolution that is in the best interest of all parties.

To best represent your client’s interests you need to use dedicated legal software for attorneys that is designed to meet not only the needs of your area of practice but the laws of your state, and CIS does just that. Download a demo and discover how easy we make New Jersey divorce settlement.

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