The Sweet Spot – HotDocs Client Questionnaires

Online client intake for estate planning using HotDocs

Wouldn’t it be great if your clients could answer your INTAKE QUESTIONNAIRE online, and you could use those answers, immediately, to create documents for them using HotDocs document assembly.  How much do you think this would cost?  The answer is less than you think.

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HotDocs Tip – Parse City, State, Zip from Address

HotDocsTip_ConvertCSZ_SnipIn our work in HotDocs, we often need to bring in defective and malformed data from databases.  Often the data source contains an address field or fields.  Ideally, it will be formatted with Street, City, State and Zip as separate fields.  However, more often, the data is not properly structured for analysis and usage.  We may get address line 1 and address line 2 or even address line 3.  To put this data into a usable format requires an understanding of text parsing.

With the use of the Custom Functions properties of HotDocs Computations, we have defined a way to parse the Address Line text which is in the [CityName], [StateAbbrev] [ZipCode] format in a line into the 3 separate constituent fields, respectively tmpCity, tmpState, and tmpZip.  We pass a parameter, prmCSZ which contains the address string.  The output sets the tmp fields which can then be used in a dialog script or other computation to set the actual fields you wish to use.

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Power of HotDocs – Creating a Loan Amortization Table

Yesterday, I took on a  new “challenge” in one of the many commercial lending systems we have been building.  Typically, we attach a Loan Amortization Table supplied by the “bank client” to the loan documentation.

These tables project payments of principal and interest during the term of the loan.  After some research on formulas, review of VBA model code and Excel spreadsheets, I took the challenge. That featured image up top is the result.

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HotDocs-Amicus Master Component Eases Integration

At the last Amicus Consultant’s Conference I demonstrated some innovative ways of improving the way HotDocs and Amicus interact.  A recent post on the LinkedIn user’s group, Amicus Wizards, has prompted me to post some pictures from that demo.  The question was asked why is the HotDocs interview generated automatically by Amicus so long with so many dialogs.  The answer is that the automatically generated interview DOES NOT HAVE any dialogs, it is merely a list of variables that are used in the template in the order that they appear in the document.

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SQL Adventures – Navigating PCLaw Billing Preferences From HotDocs

The answer to the question is “MatterInfoSpareLong2”.  After several hours of searching, calls to former PCLaw product managers and tech support directors, I got the answer I was searching for.  My odyssey had started with a simple request: “Produce a report that combines File details in Amicus Attorney with billing and receivables details in PCLaw.  Having presented a seminar on integrating Amicus Attorney and HotDocs, I thought it a simple matter to integrate HotDocs and PCLaw.

On the surface, it was easy.  In PCLaw there is a MattInf table that stores the Matter information.  You can use the MatterID from within HotDocs to query the SQL database and get file information.  On the MattInf table there is a ClientID that links to information on the primary client, allowing you to pull in client data. For current statistics, there is a MattBal that contains data on each file regarding account balance, receivables, billings etc.

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HotDocs Tips – Importing from Outlook

HotDocs has for years had a connector to Microsoft Outlook.  It is an effective tool for importing data.  However, the data that comes in, often needs to be “cleaned up” before it can be used.

Working with Outlook

  • State Field: The state can sometimes be entered as Abbreviated (e.g. NY) or as a Full State (“New York”) which causes problems on import if you importing into a Multiple Choice field
  • Street Field:  The “Address” in Outlook is different from the BusinessAddressStreet field.  And that field can have multiple lines in it, affecting how that text appears in your template where you may have coded Street1 and Street2

Further, some of the mappings in the tool are confusing because of the terminology used by Outlook and that used by most HotDocs coders can be quite different.

  • Which Address:  In Outlook there is a MailingAddress, a HomeAddress and a BusinessAddress.  If you are importing into a primary address, then you would choose MailingAddress.  If it is a Business, with a Company, you should use Business Address.
  • Salutation, Title and Job Title:  These fields are confusing since Title is “Mr.” or “Mrs”, Saluation is non-existent, and JobTitle is the positon someone holds at a company.

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Time Matters 11 – HotDocs Active Integration (Bug Fix)

For 15 years I have been working with HotDocs and Time Matters, working to ensure the smooth data-flow between those 2 programs.  We have used several methods, including (1) template registration and field mapping, (2) active integration (lookup from HotDocs), and (3) SQL database integration.

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Running HotDocs Player and HotDocs Developer (in different versions)

Face it: we don’t always upgrade to the latest version of a program. There is the cost of the upgrade, and the cost of “conversion”.  The cost of conversion on HotDocs upgrades has been over-rated.  With HotDocs 2009, you can keep the CMP in the HotDocs 2006-2008 format, ensuring painless upgrades.  However, if you don’t upgrade, some issues can arise.  This is particularly true for those who purchase LexisNexis automated forms or other published form set such as Wealth Transfer Planning.  These programs typically come with a license to “HotDocs Player 2009”.  This is the SAME as HotDocs User (previously HotDocs Standard) with one exception.  It will ONLY run “published form sets” and to publish a form set you need a “publisher’s key” and a special license arrangement with HotDocs corporation.  This is a non-issue if you have HotDocs 2009 (or the latest version).  However, if you don’t you can find that your own firm-developed templates NO LONGER WORK.

The Cause of the Problem

When you install a published form set it check if you have the most current version of HotDocs Developer, Standard or User.  If your machine does, the templates are installed and everything works.  If you do NOT have the most current version, it find the HotDocs6 folder in your program files directory, and inserts a subfolder called PLAYER.  It installs HotDocs player in this subfolder.  When you launch a one of the Automated Forms libraries, Windows “associates” the .HDL (Library files) with HotDocs 2009 Player.  So, that the next time you launch a library .HDL (assuming you have shortcuts to each of your libraries), it launched HotDocs Player and your library.  However, HotDocs Player will not PLAY your templates, so they are locked and unusable. Conversely, if you launch HotDocs 2008 (or earlier), it will open the last library, which will be the Automated Forms, which will throw an error that says cannot run templates, wrong version of HotDocs.

The Solution

Upgrade to HotDocs 2009 is the easiest solution.  However, you can also take advantage of the “command line” options of HotDocs to effectively tell Windows which version of HotDocs to run with each library. This is done by creating a shortcut to each library and putting them on your desktop:
1.  Right-click on each library (.HDL) file, and choose: Send To -> Desktop (create shortcut)”
2.  Right-click on the Shortcut and Choose Properties
3.  Under Target, insert the following “before” the path and name of the library file
For FIRM created Templates (Windows XP or Vista/Windows7):
“C:Program FilesHotDocs 6HotDocs6.exe” /lf="path and file name”
“C:Program Files (x86)HotDocs 6HotDocs6.exe” /lf="path and file name”

For AUTOMATED Templates (Windows XP or Vista/Windows7):
“C:Program FilesHotDocs 6PlayerHotDocs6.exe” /lf="path and file name”
“C:Program Files (x86)HotDocs 6PlayerHotDocs6.exe” /lf="path and file name”