Opening an IOLTA Account


In some instances, attorneys who maintain private real estate law practices and operate title companies may have a choice whether to place a client escrow deposit into their IOLTA or MAHT account. Any time a law firm accepts payments for retainers from clients or handles money on a client’s behalf, it is put into an IOLTA. Legal fees that are not part of a retainer can generally go directly into an operating account, since the payment is not for future work. While any unearned client money is required to be deposited into a trust, it may or may not be mandatory to use an IOLTA, depending on the rules in your state.

In the case of a new IOLTA account, to streamline the process, an attorney may wish to proceed to his or her local financial institution and establish a non-interest-bearing account for conversion, prior to completing the Notice form. Each time you open a trust account, you must complete an Attorney Enrollment Form. Share a copy with your financial institution, send a copy to and keep a copy for your records. When naming your account, the account title should list your firm name with a subtitle of IOLTA account, trust account or client funds account.

Board on Professional Responsibility

Attorneys routinely receive funds from clients to be held in trust for future use. The Current Year’s Reporting Attorney will make the update by completing 2a and selecting 2b which will indicate them as the firm’s reporting attorney. They will then proceed to select the appropriate IOLTA compliance certification for the firm within the same report. The institution could either place IOLTA accounts in the two different product categories, or simply apply the same tiered rate structure to the IOLTA product.

  • Attorneys should convert IOLTA accounts to non-interest-bearing accounts if their financial institution’s service charges regularly exceed interest generated on the accounts (Maryland Business Occupations Code, Section ).
  • Funds that are capable of generating net interest for an individual client must be deposited into a separate interest-bearing trust account with interest paid to the client.
  • In Australia and Canada, where the IOLTA concept originated, the programs have been operating since the 1960s.
  • Whatever the reason, borrowing from an IOLTA account carries stiff penalties, and is one of the most common ways to get disbarred.

Although the tax identification number of NC real estate bookkeeping will be assigned to all general trust accounts, the trust account and all checks should bear the name assigned by the lawyer/law firm to the account. The trust account and all checks must be clearly labeled as a „trust account“ or drawn on a trust account. Lawyers may use identifying names on their accounts and checks, such as Real Estate Trust Account, General Trust Account, etc. The identifying account name may include the term IOLTA; however, it should be clear that the NC IOLTA program is not the fiduciary agent for the account.

Massachusetts IOLTA Committee

The Interest on Lawyers‘ Trust Account Program provides an opportunity for Iowa’s banks and credit unions to work with Iowa’s legal profession in helping Iowans in need. Each year the Iowa Supreme Court awards grants from fund received from the program. Since the start of the IOLTA program in July of 1985, more than $25 million has been awarded to organizations that are either assisting low-income Iowans with civil legal problems or involved in law-related education projects.

Additionally, even if client funds are billed and earned, the money must be transferred to the business account first before being withdrawn. Should an IOLTA account issue a debit card, be very careful it is not used to withdraw money directly for the account in those circumstances. No matter which accounting solution you use, you should keep a separate ledger for each individual client account, even if it’s small or for a short period of time. Here’s what Doris’ individual ledger would look like after the transaction we mentioned above. Lawyer trust accounts are tricky—they have very specific rules around what you can and can’t do with them.

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