May 2013

Should You Use HUD Forms For Non-RESPA Transactions?

Nobody likes extra paperwork so many of us look for ways to avoid filling out documents. The HUD-1 settlement statement must be used for almost all property purchases that involve a mortgage. There are cases where you can skip the paperwork–but should you?

For example, the HUD-1A is an optional form used in refinance transactions. Agents can use the full HUD-1 form in single-party transactions, such as refinancing or equity lines of credit. HUD even recommends using the HUD 1 settlement sheet even when not required by RESPA regulations. Some agents hesitate because they are afraid that by using the forms they are opening themselves to liability or unnecessary regulation.

Actually agents are safe using the HUD form when not required. The New RESPA Rule FAQ (PDF file) available on HUD’s website says on page 44 that “using the HUD-1 form does not subject a transaction to coverage under RESPA”. So even if you use the HUD-1 on a non-RESPA transaction, you won’t suddenly be exposing yourself to RESPA rules.

The obvious next question is, “Why would I want to fill out a government form if I don’t have to?” The answer is that filling out the HUD 1 using HUD settlement statement software like Easy HUD is actually easier than figuring out a refinance, credit line or other transaction by hand. It’s quick and simple to fill out the forms when the software does the math for you. The form pulls information from the client record so you minimize the chance of data entry statements. You have a standard form where you can easily find the information you need, especially if you routinely work with HUD-1 forms.

Even if you complete the HUD-1 form purely for internal use, the features of a comprehensive legal management software package reduce the time you spend completing a transaction and getting the information you need. You can handle more clients and that has a positive effect on your firm’s bottom line.

Skeptical? Find out for yourself. Try Easy Soft’s title closing software risk-free for 30 days. You’ll see that HUD form automation improve the quality of real estate financial services you can offer your clients.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Other | Comments Off
Technorati Tagged :
, , , ,

Starting A Solo Law Practice? You Don’t Have To Go It Alone

Experienced attorneys advise law school students who want to form solo practices right after graduation that it’s best to work for a large law firm first. This allows new attorneys to learn the ins and outs of the business of practicing law and the realities of handling clients, filing documents and going to court before forming a solo practice.

After a few years in a large practice an attorney may find that the benefits are hard to leave behind. The security, large client list and technology access can be so appealing the lawyer decides to stay. However you should know that even a small firm can afford the kind of law practice management software tools that used to be available only major practices.

Powerful and affordable attorney time and billing software such as Easy TimeBill is easily available to the solo attorney on a limited budget. You don’t need to leave behind the ability to track your time, print professional invoices and track client account balances. In fact this kind of software is even more important to the solo practice than a large firm since you don’t have a bookkeeper handling the accounts for you.

Time and billing software for lawyers does more than just act as a glorified calculator. Features such as the built-in conflict checking system protect you from putting hours into a case only to realize you have a conflict of interest. Productivity tools such as a calendar and document tracking keep you on top of all aspects of a case regardless of the type of law you practice.

Easy TimeBill includes the escrow software features needed by law practices. Track all the funds belonging to each matter separately even if they are deposited in the same trust account. Ensure you never accidental spend Client A’s money on Client B’s expense. Generate three-way reconciliations required by most states.

If you are in real estate law or family practice, then we have other product that work with our legal billing and accounting software to provide additional support. It is like having a team of professionals working for you. Contact us to find out more about how our products help all law offices, from solo practices to multinational firms, automate and simplify their work.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Other | Comments Off
Technorati Tagged :
, , , ,

Child Support For Adult Children

A recent study showed that nearly half of the 26-year-olds in the U.S. were living with their parents. As the country finds its way out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, many adults struggle to make enough money to move out on their own. This can become a tricky issue if the child’s parents are divorced.

When attorneys plan child support scenarios in divorce legal software they generally assume child support ends at the age of majority, which is 18 in most states and 21 in a few. However there are cases where the non-custodial parent will be required to pay for adult children. If the child is still a minor then it is important to consider these scenarios when presenting settlement offers.

The most common reason for adult child support is college. Most states have statues that say support must continue if the child is enrolled as a full-time college student. However even in these cases there is often an age limit, typically 21 years of age, to prevent “professional students” from sponging off their parents for years. The situation of children going to college directly after high school is common so is easy to account for in divorce settlement software.

The other case where child support for adult children would be granted is if the child is disabled. In this scenario the court considers the economic impact of the disability. If the condition prevents the child from working in a self-supporting job, then the non-custodial parent may be required to keep paying support for the rest of the child’s life. This is an important consideration when using divorce planning software to evaluate different spousal and child support tradeoffs.

What if a child is disabled after becoming an adult and after the parents are divorced? The court might impose child support after the fact…or they might not. It’s a complex situation and divorce software for attorneys helps family law practices examine every possibility.

The situation is further complicated by the fact each state has its own support laws so it’s impossible to give general information that would apply to every divorce.

Attorneys have enough work just interpreting the many laws that govern adult child support in their own state without wrestling with the calculations as well. Use attorney practice management software to simplify and automate your family law practice so you can put your full attention on the law where it belongs.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Divorce Financials | Comments Off
Technorati Tagged :
, , , ,

Land Ho!: A Log Of Discovery During The Voyage Of Divorce

Although the waters of divorce are well charted, family law attorneys know they need to keep a careful discovery journal along the way. Since divorces are so contentious, the discovery process is essential to presenting a judge with an accurate picture of marital assets. In addition to using software to help complete the Case Information Statement NJ family law attorneys can use the tool to track the discovery process.

Careful discovery documentation can be more important than the actual documents being requested. Let’s say you request a document and the opposing attorney does not produce it in a timely manner. When you show the judge the discovery motion, backed by data from your NJ divorce software discovery log, then the opposing attorney’s case becomes weaker.

For the same reason, you need to stay on top of discovery requests to avoid hurting your own client’s case. For example you probably know that if you receive an “admissions of fact” and don’t return the document within 30 days, then that will be considered by the court to be a tacit admission that the statements are all true. “Oops I forgot” isn’t going to go over well with the judge.

Tracking discovery by hand in a single divorce case can be a paperwork nightmare. It’s easy to overlook one request or not aggressively pursue requests to the opposing attorney, and that means you can’t present the best case possible for your client. Multiply that by a dozen simultaneous divorce cases and it’s nearly impossible to keep up without using New Jersey matrimonial software.

Easy Soft’s Case Information Statement software includes an integrated discovery log. You can easily track requests made and received by your practice, each request categorized by case, document type, request date and more. Unlike a paper log, you can link each discovery entry with the actual electronic document stored on your computer or your practice’s network.

An attorney must work diligently to produce the best case possible for a client. In today’s fast-paced, information-heavy world that is impossible without high quality legal practice management software. Don’t work at a disadvantage. Incorporate the latest electronic technology into your law practice right away.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Other | Comments Off
Technorati Tagged :
, , , ,

Technology That Helps You Help Your Divorce Clients

Family law is one of those legal specialties fraught with emotion. To the client, this is about as personal as it gets and the attorney needs to find ways to help while still making smart business decisions. Divorce settlement software helps attorneys keep the relationship business like.

In 2010 New York became a no-fault divorce, turning the process into a mere financial transaction. Stories of abuse, infidelity and who left the cap off the toothpaste have no bearing on the decisions in the case, yet attorneys know if they are not careful, then they will be listening to every petty problem that existed in the relationship. Attorneys must keep the relationship professional finding that sweet spot between appearing cold and aloof, and becoming the client’s new BFF.

SupportNYLite keeps the client focused on financial rather than emotional matters. Rather than collecting information from the client in person, which is an inefficient use of the attorney’s time especially when every figure on the sheet comes with a ten-minute story, the attorney gives the client a Word document to be filled out at leisure. The attorney imports the form into the NY family law software quickly and efficiently.

Family law attorneys need to eat just like everyone else. However their clients are facing the loss of half their assets and often going from a two-income to a one-income family, so are dealing with their own financial problems. Attorneys who run efficient practices can keep their fees low, while handling enough clients to keep their income high.

Divorce is handled more efficiently using New York matrimonial law net worth software to automate and simplify the process of completing the NY Statement of Net Worth and calculating spousal and child support scenarios. Software allows attorneys to give each case the attention it needs using a fraction of the time manual methods would entail.

Supplement your family law software with time and billing software for lawyers to keep an eye on retainer balances, outstanding invoices and client account balances. You don’t have to be an accountant to use these tools and keep your practices solvent.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Other | Comments Off
Technorati Tagged :
, , , ,

Free Training Resources For Easy TimeBill Users

We’ve designed Easy TimeBill to have a simple and intuitive interface, allowing you to start using it confidently within minutes of installation. However simple doesn’t mean simplistic and our legal billing and accounting software includes many powerful features you might need a little help with to use to their best.

Your first stop for information would be the lawyer billing software‘s extensive online help system. Just hit F1 or select Help -> How Do I from the top menu to find easy answers to most of the questions you might have on how to use the tools and reports included. You can also select Help -> PDF Manual to see a comprehensive manual you can view or print out.

If you still have questions then come to our side to view free legal billing software training videos that take you step by step through everything from initial setup to generating invoices to bank reconciliation. Here you will also find videos on our other products such as Easy Trust and Easy HUD.

Sometimes you need more personal attention or have specific questions on how our time and billing software can be used for your unique needs. In that case we suggest you attend one of our free training webinars. Every two weeks we offer a live online training session on Easy TimeBill and Easy Trust. These sessions are a great way to stay on top of the latest laws and how they might affect your practice, and are an opportunity for you to ask specific questions about the software.

Finally, you can always contact us directly with your questions. Our team of support professionals is happy to share their expert knowledge of any of our legal practice management software with you. We can help you install, configure and use our products in ways that will improve your practice’s efficiency and profits, and help you help your clients.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Other | Comments Off
Technorati Tagged :
, , , ,