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Tag Archives: trust accounting software
Even a one-person law firm has to manage multiple trust matters through a single account, the dreaded IOLTA. Even though the monies are all in one account, every single penny has to be tracked separately so the firm doesn’t accidentally–or purposely!–”borrow” from one matter to pay expenses on another. It gets even more complicated in larger firms when many attorneys, paralegals, accountants, bookkeepers and clerical staff members need access the trust records.
Attorney time and billing software takes a lot of the headaches out of the process. Arithmetic errors are a thing of the past, although users still need to be careful about simple data entry mistakes such as transposing numbers. Dedicated escrow account software facilitates the process of tracking each transaction and assigning it to the proper matter, ensuring the funds don’t intermingle.
Today’s networked trust accounting software allows employees from all over the firm to access trust records, with permission of course. Anyone working on a matter can enter transactions as they happen rather than forwarding paperwork to an accountant or bookkeeper to enter the figures. People familiar with a case are less likely to make data entry mistakes than someone entering meaningless numbers off an invoice.
Security is a key element of attorney practice management software. Attorneys must maintain client confidentiality, even within the practice. Nobody should have access to a client’s file who isn’t working on the case. Security is even more important when dealing with trusts. Only authorized users will be allowed to enter transactions. Users can be given limited, view-only access if they are workers who need to audit the records or generate reports but don’t need to be able to make changes.
Attorney trust account software walks a delicate balance between accessibility (which allows employees to complete tasks quickly, accurately and efficiently) and security (which prevents problems ranging from simple mistakes to deliberate fraud). Don’t settle for half measures. Use only dedicated trust software to manage your escrows so you can be assured you have the accessibility and security features your practice needs.
Find out more about Easy Trust, our escrow software, by downloading a demo or contacting an Easy Soft representative.
I’ve written many times on the challenges of properly administering a trust. The regulations are strict and a trustee who breaks the rules through an honest mistake can end up in a lot of trouble. Something as simple as missing information on a check printed by escrow account software can trip up even experienced law firms.
First I need to give a little disclaimer. The information in this posting is fairly standard stuff for trust laws throughout the country, but you should always check your state’s regulations. If your locality does something a little differently than what is presented here, then you need to follow your state’s rules.
Trust laws generally require each check to have client reference information written on the check. It’s not enough to merely issue a payment from the account. Anyone looking at the check must be able to see at a glance who the client is so there is no confusion where the money has come from. Most trust accounting software does this automatically but it pays to verify that it is legible on the final check.
Trustees handling several similar accounts might make payments for several clients to a single payee. For example a real estate firm might pay the same title company for several clients at once. These payments can be combined onto a single check if the trusts are mingled in the same bank account, but the individual clients and payments must be detailed on the check.
States have regulations about check format such as a minimum physical size or required fields. Modern business checks are often printed with MICR (magnetic ink character recognition). Typical legal billing and accounting software can print these lines but trust checks must use a special format that prevents these checks from being automatically converted to electronic transaction, thus destroying the paper audit trail.
What about lawyers using legal software programs that can’t print customized checks that meet state trust laws? This is rare but can happen when firms are using older software created without the capabilities of modern applications. In that case the firm must manually write the information on the checks before they are issued. However manual corrections take time and create an opportunity for errors.
Trust administration is too important to be left in the hands of outdated applications. If your current software can’t meet the check requirements of your state, upgrade to a trust accounting system designed to meet the needs of modern escrow management, such as this one.
One of the most daunting tasks facing attorney is the administration of a trust. Nearly all law offices have a trust account to handle various transactions, and mismanagement of those accounts is not only a disservice to your clients but could also lead to legal penalties including disbarment. The parties don’t even have to have criminal intent. Simple mistakes can lead to serious penalties when it comes to trust accounting.
The law requires that a trust overseer use a proper accounting system and audit trail to account for every penny in and out of the account. In the past this meant contracting with certified accountants who had the skills needed to administer the funds but that is no longer necessary with today’s legal software programs.
A dedicated product like Easy Trust includes features designed specifically to make it easy for attorneys and other professionals to administer escrow funds with all the confidence of an experienced accountant. The trust management software automatically maintains a comprehensive audit trail so there is no chance of undocumented transactions. It enforces basic accounting rules to prevent you from making some of the basic trust accounting mistakes.
Your office must still maintain due diligence. Trust accounting software has the tools to assist in the administration of trusts but must be backed by policies that ensure all transactions are entered completely, accurately and in a timely fashion.
Easy Trust integrates with our law office billing software to handle all of your office’s bookkeeping and accounting needs. You can handle trust transactions from your office computer without having to keep track of paper documents and ledgers. Print out audit reports to document trust transactions whenever you need to.
Does this mean you can fire your accountant? Probably not. Even the best legal software won’t turn you into a CPA overnight. It’s still best to consult with a professional experienced with trust administration to ensure your system is set up correctly. However you can turn the daily bookkeeping tasks over to the law office management software rather than paying your accountant to do it.
Download a demo of our law practice management software and explore the many accounting features included.
You’ve been hired by Tom Smith for buying and selling his first house, buying his second house, divorcing the first Mrs. Smith and now divorcing the second Mrs. Smith. He’s asking whether you’ll offer him a discount and you’re wondering if you’ve been billing him enough.
Easy Soft legal billing software to the rescue for your bottom line!
When you use Easy Soft’s law office billing software, you won’t miss one minute of billing. When you’re in the office, you can open a new time slip, provide a description, and click on the clock to start earning. When you leave for court or a meeting, you can create an entry with no time, and then edit the entry to input your time when you get back to your computer. At the same time, you’ll remember to input out-of-pocket expenses associated with each time entry.
Our attorney billing software is so well designed that it allows you to select the type of billing, whether hourly, fixed fee, or recurring. At the end of each day, take a moment to review your time entries and compare them to your calendar. Even when you are working on a fixed fee basis, you can input your time into our law office billing software so that you can evaluate whether you are pricing for profitability.
When you also purchase our trust accounting software, your time law office billing software will become fully integrated to show you the balance of your client’s advance retainer deposit, as well. This pair of software products helps you to strategically monitor how to allocate your time for profitability. When Mr. Smith calls to relay his latest fight with Mrs. Smith Number Two, as soon as you start the clock running in your law office billing software, you know to mention to Mr. Smith that an additional deposit will be necessary because there’s only $200 left in trust from his original deposit.
And, if you do decide to offer Mr. Smith that discount for his second divorce, our attorney billing software has a feature that will let you select the type of discount as one-time or on-going and whether it is a percentage or a fixed dollar amount. These deductions appear as written entries on the monthly client invoice, so you can build good will with Mr. Smith – just in case he should need to hire you, again.
Get paid for all of your professional services using Easy Soft’s Easy TimeBill.
Continuing our series on practice life with the Smiths, you’re no doubt already aware it could involve several escrow transactions. The Smiths might buy a house, sell a house, and get a divorce. Each one of these transactions will involve trust accounting .
Are you prepared to represent the Smiths by using Easy Soft’s legal escrow accounting software to meet ethical requirements and get paid?
First, let’s review what’s involved in escrow transactions when the Smiths buy and sell homes. If you’re a busy real estate attorney, you need attorney trust accounting software that allows you to input each, separate escrow account, escrow agent, and depository. Trust accounting ethics requirements include balancing each escrow deposit, maintaining a ledger of all transactions, and storing bank transactions records. Our trust accounting software includes all of these features and more.
Also, when a client makes an advance retainer deposit, you need attorney trust accounting software that corresponds to your IOLTA regulations. While you can combine advance retainer deposits into a single account, you must balance each client separately to ensure that each deposit is properly funded until it is earned and paid to you. Easy Soft trust accounting software will help you meet your ethics requirements through its three-way reconciliation report.
Because we work closely with our more than 15,000 clients, we know that trust accounting isn’t always easy. This means that you might put it off, but that only compounds the problem. Sooner than you think, you could be months behind, and that could spell ethics problems.
Among our products and services, Easy Soft offers a special trust reconciliation service. When you subscribe to the Easy Soft trust reconciliation service, you get the benefit of our trained accountants to help you use the Easy Trust software product and balance your trust account. The attorney trust accounting software is provided free. If you are struggling with trust accounting, our team at Easy Soft is here to help, whether through support for use of our attorney trust accounting software or through our trust reconciliation service.
On our website, you’ll find a free trial download of Easy Trust, our legal escrow accounting software . Licenses start at $249, and come with an unconditional 30-day money back guarantee. The purchase price includes one year of free technical support. If you otherwise want to sign up for our trust account reconciliation service, we will provide you with Easy Trust software for free.
Get trust compliant for all of your clients, using Easy Soft.
It’s another typical day at the office. Mr. Smith, recently divorced, is now selling the home you had distributed to him, so that he can move into a bigger house with his second wife.
You know that you will be preparing HUD forms. To make your real estate practice profitable for routine house closings, you need Easy Soft’s HUD software. Our real estate closing software will help you and your paralegal efficiently prepare the HUD settlement statements, including payouts, prorated taxes and utilities, and transfer taxes. With so many house closings being done on a fixed-fee basis, efficiency in document production is the key to increasing your profitability.
Working with our HUD softwarebegins with the client intake information. Even though there are numerous forms to complete, when you use Easy Soft real estate closing software to prepare your HUD forms and other forms, you simply input client information once. In fact, you can open a new client file and use the screen questionnaire as the agenda for your client meeting. One more click of your mouse and our HUD software automatically populates more than 200 closing documents that are pre-loaded into our software package.
We know from working with our Easy Soft clients – more than 15,000 of them – that our software products are effective at increasing profitability for routine house closings because it is designed for everyone to able to use it. The attorney, the paralegal, and the secretary. Our HUD software screens breaks down each piece of necessary information into simple fill-in fields and pull-down boxes. All math calculations are performed by the software program; no calculators or spreadsheets necessary. And, if you discover a data input error, simply correct it in the original computer screen, and all corresponding forms will be immediately corrected.
Whether you are the attorney for the seller or the attorney for the buyer, our HUD software can be paired with our trust accounting software. Each escrow account you open for a client transaction must be separately documented and Easy Soft’s Easy Trust software does just that. You simply input client information, bank information, and any escrow agent information, and then balance each escrow account as monthly bank statements are received.
Get your clients through routine real estate transactions with ease, using Easy Soft.