Why do lawyers have trust accounts?

A lawyer trust account is a special bank account in which clients' funds are kept safe until it's time to withdraw them. Whether it's known as a client's fund account or a lawyer's trust account, using a lawyer trust account is a good business idea for lawyers who have money as an advance (or any other money) on behalf of a client for their case. And there are lawyer trust accounting guidelines that every lawyer should understand and follow. What is fiduciary accounting? Essentially, it is necessary to separately track client funds surrendered in trust, away from law firm operating funds.

The reasoning is that if you don't use your trust account, it's easier not to violate trust accounting rules as required by your jurisdiction, even if it's at the expense of cash flow. If, on the other hand, the advance fee remains the property of the client until it is won by the lawyer, it must be deposited into the lawyer's trust account and withdrawn by the lawyer or law firm as it is won. The lawyer trust account ensures the separation and security of client funds and helps law firms avoid accidentally combining client funds with law firm funds If a lawyer is unable to locate a client or other person to whom funds are owed from the trust account of the attorney, the lawyer must seek a court order to fix the attorney's fees and disbursements, and deposit the client's share in the Lawyers Fund for Client Protection. The Smokeball legal billing software is compatible with IOLTA trust accounts, but it is important that lawyers pay close attention to the rules that govern the jurisdiction in which they work.

While fiduciary accounting seems like a relatively straightforward concept, keeping track of customer trusts can be tricky if managing accounts for multiple clients. As an attorney, you have many resources and CLE available to help you better understand your trust account and the rules and regulations behind managing your trust account. However, since the inception of IOLTA, lawyers who handle nominal or short-term funds from clients who are unable to earn net income for the client place these funds in a single common trust account that bears interest. But the rules about what money can be combined or kept can become complex, so if there is any doubt about where the client's funds should go, putting them in a lawyer trust account is the smartest decision.

These new rules also require lawyers to designate existing or new bank accounts as an Attorney Trust Account, Special Lawyer Account, or Lawyer Trust Account, with pre-numbered checks and deposit slips printed with that title. This may seem obvious, having a trust account to comply with statutory trust accounting regulations, but many lawyers actually choose to give up having an account. An attorney may deposit personal funds into the attorney's trust account that are necessary to maintain the account, including banking charges. Having these documents handy will be useful for trust reconciliations and annual Trust Report requirements.

IOLA is a state agency that uses the interests of lawyer trust accounts to fund non-profit agencies that provide civil legal services to the poor and programs to improve the administration of justice.

Katherine Moretto
Katherine Moretto

Avid pop culture nerd. Infuriatingly humble web guru. Certified food maven. General coffee fan. Passionate zombie enthusiast. Amateur baconaholic.

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