August 2013

6 Reasons Your Real Estate Office Should Go Paperless

In 1975 the desktop computer was still two years off, nobody but university researchers knew what the internet was, and the concept of document imaging was something out of science fiction. This was the year that an article in Business Week Magazine coined an innovative term: the paperless office. It’s taken nearly 40 years for technology to catch up to this idea but the latest generation of HUD settlement statement software like Easy HUD has made it the paperless office not just a reality but a smart business decision. Here are just a few reasons to go paperless.

1) Going Green – This is always the first argument. Save the trees. Don’t dump nasty paper-processing chemicals into the air. Don’t generate greenhouse gases from transporting all that heavy paper. We know that’s important but let’s be honest: once you get past that “rah rah save the planet” stuff, how does it affect your bottom line?

2) Improve Your Image – Don’t just save the planet; tell people you are saving the planet! Let your customers know how committed you are to the environment, implying that those other companies that still use paper must hate all the poor baby seals or spotted owls or whatever the poster animal for the environment is lately.

3) Cut Your Costs – Fill out a HUD 1 statement on the computer and you aren’t paying for paper, ink or toner, printer maintenance, file cabinets and all the other expenses associated with keeping large quantities of paper.

4) Easy Access – If you need a particular document, would you rather spend hours pawing through a dusty file room or seconds calling it up on your computer? Not only is file access faster but it’s more versatile. Use the cloud version of Easy HUD and you’ll have access to all your customer documentation even when you are out of the office.

5) Reliable Backup – How do you protect paper documents from disaster? Fireproof safes and water-tight basements might help until something you didn’t plan for comes along. You can make copies of all your HUD 1 settlement sheets and store them elsewhere, using more paper and running up more expenses. On the other hand if you have electronic documents you can easily back them up offsite, even having the job run automatically every night.

6) Instant Delivery – Today when someone wants a HUD closing statement now, that means now and not tomorrow. Sure you can fax a paper document but how many people still have fax lines? On the other hand, how many people have email? It’s easy and quick to fire off a PDF document from right inside Easy HUD.

It’s not 1975 so stop using 1975 technology. Upgrade to the latest law practice management software to keep your real estate practice on the cutting edge of technology.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in HUD Software | Comments Off
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Tips for Calculating New York Temporary Maintenance

Temporary spousal maintenance in New York is intended to give the less affluent spouse in a divorce immediate access to funds necessary to live. This prevents the poorer spouse from feeling pressured into taking an unfair settlement just to get any money at all. New York State spousal support guidelines give a method to calculate the support but doing the math isn’t always easy.

Manual Calculations = Errors

At first you might think it’s a fairly simple calculation so you pull out your ancient adding machine and start pounding keys. It’s 30% of the payor minus 20% of the payee and then 40% of the..wait, or was that 20% of the payor…no it was right the first time…and then the payor income is…um, no that’s not right.

Not as easy as you thought, is it? Not only that but you have to be sure you include all sources of income listed on the NY statement of net worth, all valid deductions and remember to cap the income. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.

Online Calculators = Errors

You can find countless pages with quick little New York family law software calculators that offer to do the work for you. We looked at a few of these and were surprised by how many of them were inaccurate, sometimes quite startlingly so. Some of them take only lump sum net incomes so you still have to manually calculate all sources of income and deductions. If the regulations change, how do you know if the calculator has been updated? More importantly when you are done, you have no paper trail to show where you got the information. If the calculator is wrong, who gets into trouble for it? You do.

New York Divorce Lawyer Software = No Errors

Dedicated family law software like EzSupport-NY includes an accurate temporary maintenance calculator that automatically pulls information from your case file. You don’t have to enter the information twice. You don’t have to worry about making sure you’ve tracked all income and deductions because they are listed for you right there. You don’t have worry about updates because we keep our software current with the latest New York divorce law changes. It’s fast, easy and accurate — what more could you ask for?

If you aren’t convinced then try it for yourself. Download a demo of EzSupport-NY or any of our attorney practice management software titles and try them as long as you like. Once you see how easy it is to calculate temporary maintenance, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in Divorce Financials, NY Family Law Software, Other | Comments Off
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Lost Hours Are Like Throwing Money in The Garbage

Are you one of those rich attorneys who lights his cigars with $100 bills? Probably not unless you live in a cartoon. Real life attorneys know better than to waste money on something that ridiculous and yet a shocking number of practices are doing exactly that by not making full use of their attorney time and billing software to maximize billable hours.

Wasted Hours

The more time you spend practicing law, the more effective you are as an attorney. Every lawyer has to deal with administrative details but you still have to make every effort to minimize the time you spend on supporting tasks or you are just an expensive legal assistant. Wrestling with outdated manual billing systems or cumbersome financial software that isn’t designed to handle the needs of the modern legal practice are examples of wasted time.

Dedicated time and billing software for lawyers like Easy TimeBill minimizes the amount of time you squander. Entering expenses and billable hours for each matter you handle is easy and intuitive. Generate invoices and late-payment reminders with the click of a button. The integrated productivity features like the to-do list and calendar help you organize your day and maximize your efficiency.

Lost Hours

Some lawyers have the luxury of doing all their work in an office but most attorneys have to be in court or other locations at least part of the day. You need to note any incurred hours and expenses in your legal billing and accounting software but that’s hard to do with traditional products. Instead you scribble notes on pieces of paper and, assuming you don’t lose them, you have to remember to enter the information into the billing system when you get back to the office.

If you use cloud-based time and billing software then you have access to your billing system from any computer and in any location that has an internet connection. Many public areas such as courthouses have public Wi-Fi, or your office might invest in a mobile plan that gives you internet access from anywhere you have cell phone coverage. With a cloud-based system you enter expenses as they occur so you won’t forget.

Lost time is lost money. Don’t use out-date or non-optimized systems to track your hours and expenses. Take advantage of the latest generation of legal practice management software to maximize your practice’s profitability.

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Real Estate Software Education for the Busy Professional

You want to focus on your real estate business and not on paperwork. That’s why you bought HUD settlement statement software, to simplify your practice and allow you to close deals faster. We’ve made every effort to make Easy HUD as intuitive and easy to use as possible, but you may need a little extra help to learn every aspect of the software. That’s why we offer our customers free additional training resources such as videos and webinars.

Training Videos

You will find over 20 Easy HUD product training videos on the Easy Soft website. These simple and straightforward instructional seminars range from a simple overview of the title closing software to detailed lessons on key features.

  • Learn key steps in HUD-1 settlement statement preparation including tax proration, smart itemization and tracking lender netted items.
  • Explore advanced digital features such as sending HUD statements through email or filing 1099-S form electronically.
  • Discover the additional capabilities available in the optional Ledger, Real Estate Documents and 1099-S modules.
  • Export the ledger from Easy HUD to Easy Trust or QuickBooks to create a comprehensive real estate transaction software suite.

Webinars

Our training videos are a great help when learning the Easy HUD RESPA software but we’ll admit that a pre-packaged lesson can’t do everything. Perhaps your real estate firm has specific needs and you need to know how Easy HUD can accommodate them, or you may wonder how recent changes in the law affect your business and your use of Easy HUD.

This is why we offer live webinars on Easy HUD every two weeks. It’s a great opportunity for you to hear about recent changes to the software or the real estate industry and to get answers to your questions from an experienced Easy HUD specialist.

If you are using Easy HUD there is a good chance you are also using Easy Trust to handle your practice’s trust accounting needs. You might be interested to know that on the weeks we don’t talk about on Easy HUD, we offer webinars on Easy Trust and Easy TimeBill.

Best of all these webinars are absolutely free!

There is no reason to fumble around in the dark. If you have questions about any of our real estate or law practice management software titles then we have the resources you need to get answers. Watch one of our training videos or attend one of our free webinars to learn how to use every feature of our software.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in HUD Software | Comments Off
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Divorce Services for Low-Income Families

Many divorcing spouses in New Jersey ask themselves, “Do I need a divorce lawyer?” As a family law attorney yourself you know the answer is yes. Even if the split is amicable and the couple agrees on everything, completing the Case Information Statement NJ state law requires is a nightmare. An experienced attorney simplifies this process. However what if one or both of the spouses doesn’t have the financial resources necessary to hire a lawyer?

I Can’t Afford an Attorney

If a couple is already struggling then the financial burden of a divorce will make the situation worse, and adding attorney fees on top of that may just bring the financial house of cards crashing down. Some may attempt to complete the Case Information Statement themselves but there are few people who have the patience and experience to complete this form quickly and accurately.

Divorcing spouses might turn to pro bono legal services but there are far more people in need than there are available attorneys. In many cases these services can only offer advice on Case Information Statement preparation but can’t offer actual representation.

This is even worse when one spouse can afford an attorney but the other can’t. What are the chances the final agreement is going to be fair?

Lower your Costs Without Lowering Your Profits

As much as you might sympathize, you have a business to run. You have bills to pay and a family to support. You can’t give your services away for free but maybe there’s a way you can lower your rates. If you can learn to work more efficiently, then your costs are lower and you can charge less while still maintaining a positive profit margin.

A surprising number of family law attorneys are still doing divorces the old fashioned way — by hand. That wastes time and resources. New Jersey family law software allows you to complete the paperwork faster and more accurately. With less of your time being spent on each case you can lower your rates. You take more cases each day so your total revenue is the same. Your lower rate allows a wider range of clients to afford your services.

Even if you are a one-person firm, you need to be using attorney practice management software to run a more efficient practice. Download a demo of Easy Soft’s Case Information Statement software and discover how much more quickly — and affordability — you can give your clients the help they need.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in Divorce Financials, NJ Family Law Software, Other | Comments Off
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Calculating Alimony Buyout: Do It Yourself Or Hire An Accountant?

Alimony buyout has a number of financial advantages, not to mention it allows both spouses to move on rather than being reminded of the failed relationship by the monthly check. Divorce software for attorneys can come up with the monthly alimony but how do you figure out a fair buyout. There are two choices: do it yourself or hire an accountant.

Do It Yourself

How hard could it be to figure out? If divorce software calculates alimony to be $1,500 per month for 60 months then the buyout should be ($1,500) x (60) = $90,000, right?

Well, no.

The problem is that a dollar is not a dollar. A 2013 dollar doesn’t have the same value as a 2018 dollar so the buyout needs to be adjusted by inflation. Not to mention that the recipient isn’t going to simply put the money in a mattress. Investment will cause that $90,000 to grow to a much higher number. And there are the tax implications, especially if the two parties are in different tax brackets.

Hire An Accountant

Calculation of the buyout isn’t a simple arithmetic problem so maybe we need to bring in an expert. Divorces are basically financial transactions to most family law attorneys have an accountant or two on their contact lists. Pull the couples’ financial information out of the family law software and this should be an easy task for an experienced accountant.

Of course the problem is experienced professionals are expensive professionals. That easy task will probably carry a stiff price tag. This won’t cost you anything since you’ll pass that cost onto your client, but is that fair? Your client has enough financial problems going through a divorce without adding unnecessary expenses.

What other choice do you have?

The Hidden Third Option

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: computers are really good at math.

Divorce Financials, Easy Soft’s divorce settlement software, includes an alimony buyout calculator that knows all about inflation and investment and taxes. You simply enter the alimony amount and duration. It calculates the marginal tax rate based on the spouses’ incomes, and even can adjust for the possibility that alimony might not continue through its entire term. You get the expertise of a family law accountant for free.

Try it for yourself. Download a demo of Divorce Financials and use information from one of your divorce cases. You’ll see how Easy Soft legal practice management software takes complicated transactions and makes them simple.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in Divorce Financials, Other | Comments Off
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