Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

 

February 4, 2020 | Trust Accounting

Opening a Trust Account

9

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 the rules and make sure you take trust accounting seriously. Where Do You Start?

First, Read The Rules

Chapter 5, Trust Accounting, The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.

Next, Open Your Trust Account

Here are the required forms and information you’ll need to do so:

Required forms
Notice to Eligible Institution Form (complete and provide to your bank)
Sample Trust Account Bank Notification Letter (complete and provide to your bank)
Notice to Funding Florida Legal Aid Form (Formerly named The Florida Bar Foundation) (Complete Online) (complete and submit to Funding Florida Legal Aid)

Verify that your account is titled properly
A correct IOTA account title is the name of the attorney or law firm and the words “trust account.” Funding Florida Legal Aid’s name (Formerly named The Florida Bar Foundation) should not be in the account title.

Enable Positive Pay
When opening your account, we strongly recommend that you request that your bank activate Positive Pay on your trust account.

Lastly, Prepare Your Trust Account Plan

The Bar now requires all lawyers with more than one attorney in the firm to have a written trust account plan which must be disseminated to each lawyer in the firm. Why? Read Rule 5-1.2 Now Require Written Trust Account Plans The Florida Bar News, 4-1-14. Here are some some template forms to help you get started:

Minimum Requirements Trust Account Plan Form
Extended Trust Account Plan Form

The forms may be changed as needed as long as all the information required is in the written plan.

Here is some more information you’ll want to review:

Trust Accounting Resources page
The IOTA Program – Funding Florida Legal Aid Website (Formerly named The Florida Bar Foundation)
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

VIEWS AND CONCLUSIONS EXPRESSED IN ARTICLES HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHORS AND NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF FLORIDA BAR STAFF, OFFICIALS, OR BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE FLORIDA BAR.