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TRUST ACCOUNTING

STEP 6

Trust accounts are necessary for the majority of law firms. If there is one topic that you revisit often, this is it. Failure to comply with trust accounting rules results in many disciplinary complaints each year, and solo practitioners are no exception. Learn these rules and make sure you take trust accounting seriously.

Where Do You Start?

First, read Chapter 5, Trust Accounting, The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar:

5-1.1 Trust Accounts
5-1.2 Trust Accounting Records and Procedures

Practice Resource Institute

Then, check out the materials and forms on the Practice Resource Institute website. This webpage addresses the creation of trust accounts, management, and applicable rules:

PRI Trust Accounting & Monthly Reconciliation Forms Using Microsoft Excel

Open Your Trust Account

After you have learned the rules, open your trust account. Here are some helpful forms:

Notice to Bar Foundation Form
Notice to Eligible Institution Form
Sample Trust Account Bank Notification Letter

Don’t forget to verify your account is titled properly:

Attorneys Should Verify IOTA Account Titling The Florida Bar News 4-15-14

The Bar now requires all law firms to have a Trust Account Plan. Why? Read here:

Rule 5-1.2 Now Require Written Trust Account Plans The Florida Bar News, 4-1-14

Create Your Trust Account Plan

Trust Account Plan Form 

Don’t forget to fill out for your trust account compliance certificate, which can be found on your Annual Fee statement. The instructions here.

Your Trust Account is set up and ready to accept deposits. Now, make sure you know the rules. Here are some helpful tips:

Ethics Opinion 93-2
The IOTA Program – The Florida Bar Foundation Website
Billing for Professional Fees, Disbursements and Other Expenses, ABA Ethics Formal Opinion 93-379
Commonly Asked Questions about Trust Accounts Bar News 9-1-2010

Reconcile Your Trust Account

After your Trust Account has been opened for one month, you need to make it a habit to reconcile your Trust Account. And then reconcile your Trust Account every month thereafter. Check out the Practice Resource Institute for templates, spreadsheets, and helpful information to make trust reconciliation fast and simple.

PRI provides Excel Templates to use for monthly Trust Accounting compliance with The Florida Bar Rules. There are three workbooks. All three are required for compliant trust accounting procedures, and each has its own built-in instructions on usage. Additionally, there is a PDF document providing instructions about where and how to save these templates when downloading them to your computer so they are available year after year.

Here are some other helpful resources to help you keep your Trust Account in compliance with the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.

Maintaining a TRUSTworthy Trust Account CLE DVD physical media
Maintaining a TRUSTworthy Trust Account 24/7 CLE online seminar
Maintaining a Trust Account Using Quickbooks book
Unlimited FDIC protection for trust accounts expires The Florida Bar News 1-15-2013. As of January 1, 2013, FDIC Insurance coverage on Lawyer’s Trust Accounts has reverted to a limit of $250,000 per client with money in the account. Details on the change and comments from The Florida Bar Ethics Counsel are in this January 15 article from The Florida Bar News.

Maintain a Trustworthy Trust Account

Last, but certainly not least, check out this video about Maintaining a Trustworthy Trust Account.

Are you certain you understand trust accounting rules? This seminar contains a detailed presentation of rules and expectations from The Florida Bar about how to properly manage your trust account. Trust accounting involves more than just keeping money in the bank. Participate in this informative session to review the basic principles of trust accounting. Topics addressed include Florida Bar trust account rules and applicable ethics opinions, key definitions, and best practices. This course has been approved for continuing legal education credit in the following area(s): 1.5 General CLE Credits and 1.5 Ethics. Course # 1902D.