As we have worked with various law firms and banks over the years, we’ve discovered a key area that firms universally have trouble with. This problem area involves getting information from the clients and then transferring that information to the person who is creating their documents.  I like to call this process Gather – Transfer – Do.

We find that the most errors happen during the handoffs from one individual to the next. When you gather information from your client, for example, do you receive everything you need from your client in the first meeting?  Or do you end up needing to go back to your clients multiple times for more information?

If you have to go back again and again, your client is usually thinking, “I don’t have time for this! They should have told me what they need in the first place and not keep asking more questions!” It may also be that your staff doesn’t want to call the client back to ask these questions because they are embarrassed to ask them.

So what happens then? They make assumptions about the information and you just got more potential errors in your documents.


The solution in these problems is understanding who is going to get the information, what information needs to be transferred to the next person, and how the information is going to be transferred. This seems pretty simple when broken down in this way. And frankly it is. Unfortunately, we still see firms where it is not clear how this is going to occur.

It is critical that you understand the WHO, WHAT, and HOW the information is going move through your process if you are going to eliminate the errors in your documents. To learn the basics about how to map out your process I recommend you read our blog post on mapping processes.

Once you have mapped out your processes and determined who is going to pass and receive the information, then it is time to figure out the WHAT and HOW.

What information needs to pass from each person is determined by the output of the document. For example if a document requires the name, address, and phone number then this information needs to be passed to the next person.  It usually isn’t this simple.  For example, in estate planning you would need to know information about the executors, guardians, type of distribution structure, documents to be produce etc.  This is where the details become critical.

For this we like to use a paper or electronic decision tree that has a set of questions that can be answered by the attorney. This decision tree is passed to the person creating the plan. The decision tree should include all of the questions that are needed to create a document.

How you transfer the information is also critical. Does the person who is transferring the information know how to pass it along?  What form will this information be transferred in via email, paper, website, etc.? If your staff are unsure of this process then errors or missed deadlines will be one of the results.

It is critical for delivering on time and error free that you understand Gather – Transfer – Do. If you would like to learn more about how to create a document production system please join us for our Webinar on February 25 at 3:00 EST. We will teach you all of the steps that are required to create a Document Production System that delivers on time and error free.

[button link=”” size=”xl”]Creating a Document System Webinar[/button]

Middleton, ID December, 2012, REAL Automation Solutions, a leading Website development company, announced today that it has entered into an agreement with the Practical Planning System, LLC. in Salt Lake City, UT to provide an online questionnaire for attorneys.

This questionnaire will be an industry first for Practical Planning System and will provide a way for attorneys’ clients to fill out there information online and import it into the HotDocs Practical Planning System.

For more information, visit

About REAL Automation Solutions

REAL Automation Solutions is your source for HotDocs© document automation and website development. Since 1998 we have been helping law firms and companies get the most out of.

About the Practical Planning System. LLC.

Practical Planning Software provides HotDocs® automated will and trust documents, instructional videos, articles, webinars on fundamental and advanced topics.


Kim Mayberry

REAL Automation Solutions


Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac

Do you want to run HotDocs on a MAC? If so you now have the option to do so. With Parallels Desktop you can run HotDocs on a MAC. We have a number of clients who are using HotDocs on a MAC.

Here are some screen shots of what it looks like.

HotDocs on a MAC task bar

HotDocs on a MAC Full Screen

What is HotDocs?

A document assembly product developed to help attorneys, banks, and corporations create automated document systems. Automated document systems are used to simplify the repetitive aspect of preparing legal documents and forms

Versions Available:

Introduction to Document Assembly

There are three kinds of HotDocs templates: document templates, form templates, and interview templates. Document templates create word processor document files (like wills or trusts). Assembled document templates are sent in your word processor. You can edit any section of the text. Form templates are created from static text and filled in using HotDocs Automator. Users cannot modify the underlying text, but can fill in and modify answers. Interview templates gather common information and save the answers for use in other documents but do not assemble a document themselves.

In your library, the template is type is represented by the icon next to the template name. The document template has a “piece of paper” icon with blue lines; the form template has a “piece of paper” icon with yellow rectangles; the third type of template, the Interview Template, uses an icon that looks like a card, with a blue line across the top.

How Templates Are Created

Document Template – A Word or WordPerfect file, which is turned into a template, and then automated to with HotDocs variables and Script to allow customized user entry. (The extensions will be .rtf, .wpt, or .dot.)

Form Template – A Word, WordPerfect, PDF, or other file format, that can be automated in HotDocs Automator. Non-pdf forms must first be printed with the HotDocs driver to create Envoy-based static content before they can be automated. (The extensions will be .hft, hpt.)

Interview Template – A component file designed to gather common and store the answers for future document assembly. Special instructions are given to control the order that questions are asked. There is no resulting document – they can only generate an answer file. (The extension is .cmp.)

Variable Types

There are 7 main types of variables:

  • Text
  • Number
  • Date
  • True/False
  • Multiple-choice
  • Computation
  • Dialog

Text Variable – You can enter any text string in this type of variable, including letters, numbers and symbols. Text variables include items such as names and address. Telephone numbers, SSNs, or other “numbers” which should not be used to add, subtract, multiply, etc. are created as text variables

Number Variable – Numbers can be formatted to restrict maximum or a minimum values, as currencies, or set to show a certain number of decimal places. Typically numbers are used to represent text that will be used in a calculation. Because social security and telephone numbers are never used in calculations and typically require a specific format, they are considered Text variables not numbers.

Date Variable – You can use the popup calendar to enter a date, or enter in as 14 Nov 2003, 11 14 2003, or November 14, 2003. Unless you change your options, it will require a 4-digit year.

True/False Variable – You can select from either check boxes or radio buttons. They can be grouped together, so they resemble a multiple choice, or can require a “Yes” or “No” answer.

Multiple Choice Variable – This type of variable allows you to select from a list of options, and often included an “Other” choice where you can enter in additional information. Depending on the variable, you can choose one, or multiple selections. This type of variable can appear as a drop down list [CLIENT STATE] or as a list, with [SALUTATION] or without [MARITAL STATUS] columns.

HINT: Single selection multiple-choice variables are radio (circle) buttons and multiple choice variables have square buttons.

Computation – You can use a Computation variable to calculate number, date, true/false, and text values based on answers a user enters. The computed value can then be merged into the assembled document. Computation variables can also be used to group several instructions or expressions for insertion into a template, which results in quicker assembly.

Dialog – By default, when HotDocs displays variables in a HotDocs interview, each variable is shown in a dialog by itself. While this approach may be sufficient for some, you may want to group related variables and present them in a custom dialog.

Middleton, ID May 14, 2012, REAL Automation Solutions, a leading HotDocs Gold Partner in automated document generation, announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Yosemite Farm Credit in Turlock, CA to provide a HotDocs Database connection for the HotDocs desktop software.

The Database integration will help manage the workflow of the loan creation process and allow Yosemite Farm Credit to have greater access to the data that is currently being collected in HotDocs. This system also allows Yosemite Farm Credit to further integrate its various systems into one cohesive system.

For more information, visit

About REAL Automation Solutions
REAL Automation Solutions is your source for HotDocs© document automation and is a HotDocs Gold Partner. Since 1998 we have been helping law firms and companies get the most out of document automation. Our core focus is on HotDocs© and connecting HotDocs© to databases.

About the Yosemite Farm Credit
Yosemite Farm Credit is a farmer-owned cooperative, dedicated to serving our neighbors in the agricultural community with the best financial products and solutions and the best customer service in the industry.

Our roots date back to 1916, and ag financing is all that we do. We know this industry and area better than anyone. We are committed to building great relationships with our members that don’t just last for the term of a loan, but continue through generations.

Yosemite Farm Credit offers a comprehensive array of financing and banking options to meet all your agriculture-enterprise needs.

Kim Mayberry
REAL Automation Solutions

In February, HotDocs introduced a new product called HotDocs Document Services. This new service is a Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) offering. One of its advantages is that it allows you to send your clients an interview via email and then allows your clients to enter their information. After your clients have completed the interview, you can then review their information and generate your clients’ documents quicker, thereby reducing the time you spend entering client information. By utilizing HotDocs Document Services, you can generate documents and organize your templates anytime and anywhere as the templates are hosted online.

How will HotDocs Document Services help me? — Answer: This product will save you time.

As a HotDocs consulting company, we have been asked a number of times, over the years, if there is a way to allow clients to fill out some of the information needed for an estate plan in an online questionnaire. With HotDocs Document Services, you now have the option to have your clients fill out an online questionnaire that is customized to your firm’s needs.

Our approach to creating an online questionnaire

We have talked to hundreds of estate planning attorneys over the years, and as we discuss their practices, there is one question we like to ask: do you send out a questionnaire to your clients prior to your meeting? We have discovered that attorneys fall into two categories:

  1. they do not send out questionnaires to their clients, because their clients will not fill out the questionnaire; or
  2. they do send out questionnaires to their clients, but their clients do not fully complete the questionnaire.

The question then becomes, how will an online questionnaire help attorneys in either of these categories? Actually, an online questionnaire can help both types of attorneys, because the advantage to an online questionnaire is that you can direct your clients through the interview process using help text and dynamic links. By using these tools, your clients will only need to answer the questions that pertain to their situation, creating a better experience for them. You also have the option to add links to help videos (describing a particular term or nuance that they should be aware of) in the interview. One strategy that you might choose to adopt is to offer a discount to your clients who fill out the online questionnaire, thus saving you time.

I’m sold on the online questionnaire, so where do I go from here?

REAL has created an online demonstration of an estate planning questionnaire. To contact us, you can email us or call us at 801-766-3183. We will then provide you with the link to our questionnaire and walk you through the process of creating your online questionnaire.

HotDocs has released a Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) automated document generation application called HotDocs Document Services. With HotDocs Document Services, you can store your templates in the cloud and produce documents from most browsers. HotDocs Document Services is great for offices that have multiple locations, have virtual staff members, are looking for ways to better control access to the firm’s templates, or just like the idea of having their templates in a cloud environment.

A new feature that HotDocs Document Services offers is customer interviews. This new feature allows you to send your clients an interview via email and then allows your clients to enter their information. After your clients have completed the interview, you can then review their information and generate your clients’ documents quicker, thereby reducing the time you spend entering client information.

HotDocs Document Services Pricing

  • 30-Day free trial
  • Entry level package is $99 / month / 1-5 – user subscription
  • First 100 client interviews are free of charge
  • Additional client interviews billed at $1 each
  • No setup fee
  • 12 Month Contract
Number of Users Cost per month
Up to 5 $99
6+ $19 Per Addl. User
20+ $17 Per Addl. User
50+ $16 Per Addl. User
100+ Call for Pricing

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HotDocs Software Pricing

HotDocs User Edition 11


HotDocs Developer Light 11


HotDocs Developer 11


*HotDocs Document Services (HotDocs SaaS)

Learn More


HotDocs 2009 to HotDocs User Edition 11


HotDocs 2009 to HotDocs Developer Light Edition 11


HotDocs 2009 to HotDocs Developer Edition 11


HotDocs 2007 – 2008 to HotDocs User Edition 11


HotDocs 2007 – 2008 to HotDocs Developer Light Edition 11


HotDocs 2007 – 2008 to HotDocs Developer Edition 11


HotDocs is delivered via an electronic copy

Call us at 801-766-3183 to place an order or if you have questions about HotDocs. If you would like to place an order for HotDocs visit our ecommerce site at

* Discount does not apply to HotDocs Document Services