September 2013

Paperless Invoicing Is Easy With Time and Billing Software

You may not realize how expensive it is to send out invoices. In addition to postage you are paying for stationery and printer toner as well as the time it takes the staff to print bills and stuff envelopes and the storage space you need to keep your copies of all this paper. Fast and efficient paperless billing is in the reach of even the smallest law firm with the help of Easy Soft’s legal billing and accounting software, Easy TimeBill.

Electronic Documents

The simplest form of electronic billing is email. You can use Easy TimeBill time and billing software for lawyers to track hours and expenses associated with a client separated by matter. It’s easy to monitor retainers so you don’t run out of funds, and to manage trust accounts with the addition of Easy Trust. When it is time to generate your invoices, you can save the invoice as a Word or PDF file with a simple click. The electronic files look just like the paper invoices you might send.

The great thing is you don’t even need a separate email program to send the files to the client. Enter the client’s email address as part of the case record and you can email the electronic invoices from within Easy TimeBill.

LEDES98B — True Electronic Billing

A lot of electronic billing isn’t designed to be read by human eyes. Your invoice will be read by another software program by a client who maintains electronic financial records. You probably won’t need this in a typical divorce or bankruptcy case, but if you deal with large firms such as insurance companies you’ll find that e-billing is a necessity. Many of these organizations simply won’t accept paper invoices as they are too cumbersome.

Computers can’t be expected to search your invoices for information. They expect electronic invoices to have the information arranged in a specific format. The industry standard for e-billing is a format called LEDES98B. You don’t need to worry about what that means; all you need is attorney time and billing software capable of sending in that format. Easy TimeBill can.

You don’t have to hire an IT expert or invest thousands of dollars in an expensive infrastructure to convert to electronic billing. Check out the e-billing features built into Easy TimeBill and see how easy it is. With over 20 years of experience in attorney practice management software development, you know Easy Soft does legal e-billing right.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Divorce Financials, Other | Comments Off
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Dont Let Errors on the HUD 1 Statement Blow Your Deal

For want of a nail, a kingdom was lost. For want of a spellchecker, a million-dollar home sale was lost. Simple typos on the HUD closing statement will at best delay your payment, and at worst torpedo the deal completely.

Small Errors, Big Consequences

It happens to all real estate professionals. The HUD settlement statement is a long, complex form. No matter how experienced you are, you can make a mistake. It could be a misspelled name, transposed digits, an inaccurate interest rate or a simple arithmetic error. You do your best to provide accurate information and to proof the documents before getting them signed, but it still happens. A mistake is made, someone notices it and now you have a problem.

How serious a problem? Well it depends. Simple errors may simply mean submitting a corrected form. With luck you could close the deal the same day. On the other hand, people may not be able to change their schedules and now the deal — and your payment — is delayed by several days. If the transaction has already been delayed for other reasons, then the contract to close might expire and you could lose the deal completely.

Technology to the Rescue

This is one of the many reasons successful real estate professionals use HUD settlement statement software such as Easy HUD. Automatic calculations avoid the mistakes inherent when doing the work manually. Embedded tax tables ensure you are using the right rates for the sale, which is especially important if your business crosses tax borders.

It’s not just about the numbers. Then integrated spell checker catches typos in other parts of the HUD or in the other forms, letters and other documents you can generate with the software. You can save partially filled-in HUD forms to be used as templates so you don’t have to keep typing the same information on every form, and that gives less opportunity for embarrassing errors.

With dedicated real estate agent and attorney practice management software so affordable and readily available, there really is no excuse for careless errors. No the software doesn’t take the place of your own diligence and proofreading, but it does gives you another set of unblinking electronic eyes that will catch many of your mistakes. Don’t continue to practice using last century’s technology. Contact us to find out how Easy Soft technology helps your real estate business succeed.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in HUD Software | Comments Off
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Tips for Documenting Attorney Hours and Expenses

Work or expenses not billed is lost money. Although a few dollars here and there may not seem like much, if you are missing expenses regularly that it quickly builds into a large loss of revenue. Too many attorneys use haphazard methods to track hours, which ultimately causes them to under bill clients or get complaints that the practice isn’t doing enough to earn their money. Practices can use attorney time and billing software to make it easy to document all expenses.

  • Start With A Written Policy – Don’t expect people to simply know how to use the software or track hours. A written billing policy ensures everyone in the firm is using the same practices. Even single-lawyer firms should have a written policy for protection. If a client complains to your state bar about your billing practices then documented billing procedures will help demonstrate your honest intent.
  • Document Hours Even For Flat-Fee Cases – There are two reasons to use time and billing software to track hours for flat-fee cases. First, you can prove to an unhappy client that you did something to earn your fee. Second, your practice can use these records to measure the work being done and determine if your fees are appropriate.
  • Document As You Go – Many attorneys sit down at the end of the day — or worse the end of the month — and try to recreate their work schedules for billing. That just doesn’t work. You end up either unintentionally over billing a client or you cheat your practice out of payment for work you did but forgot. Cloud-based legal billing and accounting software can be used from anywhere with an internet connection so attorneys can enter hours or expenses immediately, even if not at the office.
  • Track By Client And Matter – One of the main reasons to use dedicated lawyer billing software rather than generic business solutions is matter-based billing. Every expense entered has to be linked not just to a client but also to a particular case. This is difficult or impossible to do with anything other the dedicated legal software.
  • Keep Receipts – Although electronic billing is rapidly becoming the norm, paper receipts will always be a part of legal practice. Anything from office supplies to lunch with a client can produce a receipt that needs to become part of the record. If you prefer to keep everything electronic then scan the receipt and include the image as part of the client’s digital file.

Contact Easy Soft to find out how our law practice management software products make it easier than ever to keep comprehensive and accurate billing records.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Other | Comments Off
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Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to File Tax Forms with RESPA Software

The “death and taxes” line is overdone so we’ll just say that you can’t escape IRS filings no matter what your business is. Real estate practices might file the HUD 1 settlement statement right away but put off the important follow-up document, the 1099-S. Use Easy HUD to make 1099-S filing a breeze.

Do You Need To File?

Although it doesn’t hurt to file a 1099-S, there is no reason to do so if you are exempt. The IRS list reasons a real estate transaction doesn’t have to be reported and real estate professionals should be familiar with these rules. A very short version of the rules is that if the transaction was less than $250,000 (or $500,000 for a married couple) then the sale doesn’t have to be reported. There are a few more provisions so be sure to read the IRS rules before deciding a sale is exempt.

The tax people aren’t going to take your word for it but you can use the RESPA software to complete and print out an 1099-S exemption form for your records.

Filing a Paper Form

Many real estate professionals choose to do their 1099-S forms all together at the end of the year, and then end up dreading the task. They have to dredge up old records and fill out the forms to be mailed all at once. While this is allowed, it’s not the most efficient method. Why not fill out the 1099-S while the information is fresh in your mind? Easy HUD real estate title software pulls relevant information out of the case file so you can easily print and mail off the form as soon as the sale is finalized. You get it out of your way and move on to the next deal.

However paper forms are just so 2003. We live in the internet age, so why not file the forms electronically?

Electronic Filing

Don’t bother with the inconvenience of printing a 1099-S and then mailing it off, not knowing if it will arrive or not. Use Easy Soft HUD settlement statement software to file the form through our electronic 1099-S service. File with one click and get a confirmation number within seconds so you know your form has been received. The service is simple to use and inexpensive, and once you’ve tried it you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

Streamline your tax filings to speed up closing and reduce paperwork. If you aren’t using Easy Soft attorney practice management software already then try a free demo to explore all the features of our software.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in HUD Software | Comments Off
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New York State Spousal Support: It’s Not All About the Numbers

The lower earning spouse in a divorce can’t afford to wait out a long legal process to get spousal maintenance. For this reason New York State spousal support law includes a quick and easy calculation to determine temporary support until the final amount can be determined. This amount is not carved in stone and a court can modify the award to more accurately reflect the couple’s financial situation.

The Problem with Going to Court

The New York temporary maintenance formulas are based only on each couple’s income. While this makes a decent first approximation, our finances are defined by more than our paychecks. The Statement of Net Worth in New York divorces contains far more information and may show that the amount that comes from the maintenance calculation is unfair. The law specifically allows the amount to be changed for reasons ranging from a spouse’s health to the couple’s living arrangements to the need to care for elderly parents.

Either spouse can object and take the matter before a judge but going to court is a last resort in divorce cases. Nobody can predict how a judge will rule. For example an attorney seeking a higher maintenance amount might find the judge rules the amount should actually be lowered based on a broader view of the couple’s finances. Family law attorneys prefer to settle these matters out of court if possible.

The Art of Negotiation

Often both sides feel the temporary calculation is wrong. The payor thinks it’s too high and the recipient thinks it’s too low. Each side can bicker about it but that’s not productive. Attorneys know they need more than hand-waving arguments to convince the other side so they turn to New York matrimonial law net worth software to provide evidence backing up their claims.

Family law attorneys can prepare multiple support scenarios in the New York divorce software taking into account factors such each spouse’s lifestyles, earning capacity, age and health. They can adjust the amounts for unusual factors. For example if one spouse needs to go back to school to become employable after a long period of being absent from the work force, it might be appropriate to raise the maintenance amount. They can examine the tax implications of different scenarios sometimes finding solutions that are better for both sides.

Negotiation tends to favor the side with better documentation. Use legal practice management software to back up your arguments with hard facts and increase the chance of a favorable temporary maintenance settlement for your client.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Divorce Financials, NY Family Law Software, Other | Comments Off
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Real Estate Leads Malpractice Claims – Right Title Closing Software Can Help

The American Bar Association announced that for the first time in the nearly thirty years they have been tracking malpractice statistics, real estate law passed personal injury to top the number of malpractice claims. The source of the claims was most often real estate documents such as the HUD-1 settlement statement. You may think this finding doesn’t affect you, but no matter how honest and careful you are you still face potential liability.

“Oops” Is Not A Legal Defense

Evil Attorney A is a mustache-twirling villain from a cartoon. He deliberately and fraudulently files real estate paperwork that misrepresents the sale and puts money in his pocket. Sweet Attorney B is a hard-working lawyer who does lots of pro bono work and is nice to his mother. One day he puts a number in the wrong box on the HUD-1, purely by accident. Which lawyer is going to get penalized? Probably both of them.

The difference between maliciously breaking the law and accidentally making a mistake is virtually nothing in the eyes of a judge. While intent may have some bearing on the case, results are what matter. If you prepare or file a HUD 1 statement incorrectly, and your error jeopardizes the sale, costs either party money, or otherwise creates a problem then you may still be subject to penalties.

Software Protects Your Practice

A court’s position is that an experienced and ethical attorney will implement controls to make sure mistakes don’t happen, or at least are far less likely. Having those controls may convince the court to be lenient. HUD settlement statement software like Easy HUD ensures that much of the preparation, calculation and filing of the forms are handled in a predictable and accurate manner.

The use of title closing software not only reduces the errors but can provide information vital to a malpractice defense. The automatic audit trail created will be important evidence that the blunder was, in fact, a one-time mistake rather than a deliberate attempt at fraud. It also shows that the practice is making an effort to control the environment and reduce the opportunity to make errors.

Although attorney practice management software doesn’t make your firm malpractice-proof, it can minimize errors and provide evidence of intent. Protect your practice with the latest law practice technology.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in HUD Software | Comments Off
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