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Support - Trust Accounting

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Trust Accounts Overview #

CaseFleet has a fully-featured trust accounting system, and this tutorial will show you how to use it. But, before we dive in, let's review some of the terminology.

Trust Account: this is your law firm's IOLTA trust account. It represents an actual, separate bank account that you use for holding client funds. Most (if not all) US states have strict rules and regulations on attorney trust accounts. The most important rules are: (1) the firm's money should not be "intermingled" with client money held in trust, (2) individual client balances should be tracked in a ledger, and (3) interest should be remitted to the state bar.

Client Account: a client account is a bookkeeping device that tells you exactly how much money belongs to each of your clients who have money in trust. A client account should have a ledger showing how its balance is determined as the result of various transactions.

Trust Transactions: these are transactions in which money enters or leaves your firm's trust account. Each transaction should be associated with a client account and should have a date and a description.

CaseFleet helps with all of the above functions and more. 

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Opening a Client Account #

In order to track client funds in trust, you must first open a client account. There are two ways to do this: (1) you can open a master account for a client that's not associated with a particular case or (2) you can open a case-specific account. (Don't worry if you can't decide which to use at this point - you can always transfer funds later if you put them in the wrong place at first.)

To open a master account, complete the following steps: (1) ensure a contact exists in CaseFleet for the client, (2) visit the Trust Ledger page of CaseFleet (which is in the Billing section), (3) click the "Create New Trust Account" button, (4) enter the name of the contact, and (5) click "Save".

Alternatively, you can create a trust account that's directly associated with a case. To do this: (1) open the case, (2) click the "Trust Account" tab on the case navigation bar and (3) click the "Activate Trust Account" button. Note, if you do not have a client linked to your case yet, CaseFleet will prompt you to link a client prior to activating trust accounting.  

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Adding Funds to a Trust Account #

Once you've set up a trust account, it's very easy to enter transactions, such as initial deposit, payment of an expense, or payment of an invoice. Please note that if you want the transaction to be associated with a case, you should create the transaction from the case's trust accounting section:

From there, click the "Create a Transaction" button to deposit money into a client's trust account (or visit the client's account from the Trust Accounts page in the Billing section of CaseFleet to deposit money into his/her general trust account). Click "Create a Transfer" to transfer money from the trust account. Deposits (money coming into your firm's trust account) are always positive numbers, while withdrawals are negative numbers.

TIP: Save yourself time by depositing funds related to cases directly into the client's case-specific account. This will minimize the need for transfers.

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Transfering Between Client Sub-Accounts #

Sometimes you'll have a client with more than one case active at a time, or you may have a client who regularly has open cases with your firm who may want to maintain an ongoing trust balance. In these instances, it's often necessary to transfer funds from the client's overall, unallocated balance to a case-specific ledger, or even between case-specific ledgers. Fortunately, we've made this as easy as pie :-)

The steps are as follows: (1) visit the case into which you want to transfer funds; (2) click on the Trust Account section; (3) click the "Create a Transfer" button; (4)choose source and destination accounts, an amount, a date, and a memo. The following GIF shows the whole sequence of transferring money from the unallocated client account to the client's case-specific account.

Note: Transfers do not represent occasions in which money comes into or goes out of your actual trust account at your bank. Rather, transfers are simply an internal method that CaseFleet provides of separating client balances across more than one case. If you are entering data representing a transfer from trust to operating, then you'll create a transaction.

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Paying Invoices with Funds from Trust #

One of the best things about maintaining a trust account balance with your clients is that you get paid immediately on any invoices you submit. Assume that your client has paid you a retainer of $5,000 and you have an invoice for $1,000. You can typically pay yourself immediately by transferring $1,000 from the client's trust ledger to your operating account. This is very easy to do in CaseFleet as a result of how our trust accounting system is set up.

When you go to add a payment to an invoice, if the client has a trust account, CaseFleet will simply ask you whether you want to apply all or part of the trust balance:

Here, the client has an invoice of $1,000 and a trust balance of $5,000. This means that you can enter $1,000 and select the "Payment from Trust" checkbox. CaseFleet will handle the rest by creating a payment record and a corresponding trust account transaction. Don't worry about overdrawing the trust account - we never allow a transaction, transfer, or payment to be saved if it would cause a client balance (either overall or on a case) to drop below zero.

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Reconciling Your Account #

Lastly, it's extremely important to keep your trust account records reconciled with your bank account. You'll want to ensure that the account balance at your bank is equal to the balance shown in CaseFleet. To see this figure, simply visit the Trust Transactions page in the Billing section of the app. Next, you'll want to verify that the dates and amounts of the transactions recorded in CaseFleet match what is reflected in your bank account statement. Here, you'll want to exclude transfers because they don't correspond to transactions you would see on your bank account statement:

 Transactions page

After excluding transfers, you'll simply want to check that each transaction's date and amount corresponds with your bank records.

If you have any questions, please contact us at support@casefleet.com or using the in-app chat function.