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Technology-Property provides information on current technology and microcomputer software of interest in the real property area. The editors of Probate & Property welcome information and suggestions from readers.
Finding and Using Forms on the InternetA variety of forms and other things available on the Internet are free and freely available. To use the forms that are available, a user needs to locate them, determine the type of files available and download them. Some forms currently available allow users not only to download them and print them out, but also to fill them in electronically on the computer, avoiding the need for handwriting forms or typing them on a traditional typewriter.
The most common type of file now being used on the Web that allows for downloading and local storage on one's hard drive is the "portable document format" or pdf from Adobe. The pdf file can be viewed, printed and-when the file creator designs it appropriately-filled out using the Adobe Acrobat Reader ® , freely available from Adobe's Web site, http://www.adobe.com/( LINK). To create pdf files, a user must purchase the Acrobat creator from Adobe. The only drawback to using Acrobat to fill out and print forms is that the user cannot then save the filled out form; thus, paper copies become essential. This is still an improvement over the typewriter, however, with the need to fix errors manually.
The IRS on the Internet
Of the sites currently available on the Internet for real estate practitioners, the IRS site is one of the easiest to navigate and use. The site, located at http://www.irs.gov( LINK), contains information that just a few years ago could only have been obtained by mail or by visiting an IRS office. Now all of the information needed is generally available on line, including forms, publications and notices. In addition, users can view documents on the IRS site without downloading them, a process that often takes time. Current forms and publications-including instructions for the various IRS forms-are available by date or by form number, all in pdf format. This dual search format allows a user to find and download a form for which he or she has the number, and also allows the user to avoid downloading the form next time by simply checking the date listing for the form. If the form has not been updated since the user last downloaded it, that form is current and should be safe to use again. The IRS site also contains forms and publications going all the way back to 1992, allowing practitioners to obtain forms used during the previous seven years. The IRS has made a number of the forms so that they can be filled in by practitioners directly in the Adobe Acrobat Reader ® . One form of particular use to real estate practitioners, the 1099, is not available online, however. The 1099 is a triplicate form and thus cannot be reproduced simply by filling out one page and then copying it. As well as being easy to navigate to find forms and publications, the IRS site also contains much information relevant to downloading and using forms. For example, forms-such as the 1099 that cannot be downloaded-can be ordered on-line for mail delivery. There is also information on how to download and print from the site. One of the most helpful features of the site is a set of hyperlinks to the tax departments of all state and territorial taxing jurisdictions in the United States, a useful resource even if downloading or printing the forms is not necessary.
The HUD Site
HUD also maintains a Web site with information relevant to the real property practitioner at http://www.hud.gov( LINK). As with the IRS site, the HUD site includes forms and publications. Handbooks are also included on the HUD site. Several HUD forms also are "fillable" (this is HUD's term for a form that can be filled out in the free Adobe Acrobat Reader ® ). The HUD 1 used in many real estate closings is included on the site, and is fillable, making a stopover at the HUD site essential to any practitioner without specific closing software that includes the HUD 1. In addition to official forms and publications, other information that is useful to the real property practitioner is available on the World Wide Web. The Section has a newly redesigned Web site that is easy to navigate and contains not only updates on Section activities and publications, but also links to real estate-related sites on the Internet. The Section Web site is located at http://www.abanet.org/rppt ( LINK). Cornell Law School, home of the Legal Information Institute, a Web-based legal information server, also contains significant resources for the real estate practitioner. For example, located at http://www.law.cornell.edu/topics/state_statutes.html#property ( LINK) is a list of links to all U.S. state law statutes relating to property, a useful reference for any practitioner. Other resources on the Cornell site include links to legal items of interest to all practitioners, such as Supreme Court opinions, opinions from all of the federal circuit courts and federal district courts, when available, and opinions of many state courts, especially state high courts. The home page for the Legal Information Institute is http://www.law.cornell.edu ( LINK).
Title Insurance on the Web
TitleWeb, http://www.titleweb.com( LINK) , is a site that provides a plethora of information related to title insurance issues, specifically with a focus on electronic trends in the title industry. Reported areas include industry news and features on topics of interest, such as Internet escrow practices and e-commerce in the title arena. TitleWeb is operated by Fountainhead information Systems, which is in the business of providing title plant automation, consulting and Internet strategy services. Most title insurance companies also have Web sites that include software, news items and company information. A list of title companies on the web can be foundin the Yahoo search engine at http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/ Companies/Financial_Services/Insurance/Title/ ( LINK).
In addition to the general and even narrow areas of interest to property lawyers, there are also sites that contain information on very specific topics. For example, Indian land claims are a growing issue in many parts of the country. New York's Madison County maintains a site relating to the Oneida Indian land claim at http://www.madisoncounty.org/ ( LINK). The site includes a history of the land claim, treaties, court papers and other information relevant to the claim. Although not everyone will be interested in such a topic, the fact that the information is available should convince practitioners that information on a specific topic that they are searching for is also probably available on the Web.
The World Wide Web contains significant and useful resources for the real property practitioner, many of which are easy to locate and use. Readers who have come across a Web site that is particularly useful in real estate practice are requested to send it to the Property Technology Editor at the e-mail address listed below.
T echnology-Probate Editor: Robert A. Heverly, Albany Law School, 80 New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY 12208, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .