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trust checks for multiple matters

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jkdeaton Posted: Fri, Jun 30 2006 3:32 AM

A portion of my practice involves traffic tickets.  In the normal course, I collect fees, court costs and fines to deposit in the trust account.  After disposition, I pay court costs and fines to the Court and fees to the firm from the trust account.  Previously I had used PCLaw and SOP was to write one check to the Court for court costs and fines for several matters.  A separate check for fees was written to the firm for those same matters.  I have played with the sample database to try to find a way to write one check for multiple matters using BM+ v.7 but cannot figure out a way to do this.  Is it just my ineptness with the program, or is there truly no way that this can be done?  Any suggessions would be greatly appreciated.

John K. Deaton; 323 N. Main St.; Troy, NC 27371; 910-576-3999; johnkdeaton@earthlink.net

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John,

The only way to print a trust check for multiple matters is to use the "Automatically apply funds to new charges on bills" option.  Since you want a separate check for fees and expenses, you would have to set up separate trust accounts for fees and expenses.

I don't know what your objective is, but you could write a check from your operating account to the court for costs and distribute it to the matters.  This would create billing items on the matters for the costs.  If you used the "Automatically apply funds to new charges on bills" option, you could print one check for the fees and expenses for the current period from multiple matters.

Although I don't expect you to do this, you could also set up one trust account for fees and one for expenses.  Then, you could get one check for fees and one check for expenses whenever you made a billing run.

Mike Williams

Williams Business Consulting

Mike Williams Williams Business Consulting 16625 Indian Mound Road Tampa, FL 3618 mike@williamsbusinessconsulting.com
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John, I write separate fees and costs checks for each Matter, rather than one big check for multiple Matters. But it seems to me you could handle this the same way you would handle it if you'd written separate checks for each Matter: do a separate Add Transaction for each Matter.

The only differences are that: (a) the Check Number will be same in each Transaction Entry Screen related to that same check, and (b) the check Amount field is NOT the total amount of the Trust Account check, but only that portion of the check allocable to that specific Matter.

Thus, the total dollar amount of all the separate Transactions adds up to the total amount of the check. If you were to then open each affected Matter, you would see the correct Check Number and the correct Amount withdrawn from Trust.

fwiw, when I write a Trust Check for FEES, I actually do TWO Add Transactions for each Matter:

First, in the Transaction Entry Screen, select "Withdraw Funds" in the Type field (located in the upper left corner of the Transaction Entry Screen); this represents the removal of monies from the Trust Account used for that Matter. Be sure to select the appropriate Trust Account in the Fund Acct field (located in the lower left corner of the Transaction Entry Screen). As noted above, in the case of a single check covering multiple Matters, the Amount field is not the total amount of the fees check, but only that portion of the Trust Account check allocable to that specific Matter.

Second, after saving and closing the first Transaction Entry Screen, open another Transaction Entry Screen, and select "Payment" in the Type field. This represents use of Trust Account monies to "pay" to the firm's General Account the fees owed by the client, just as if the client submitted his/her own check to you to pay fees owed. When you generate a Statement, it should show one line item for the withdrawal (thereby ensuring the Trust Balance gets reduced), and another line item for the payment (thereby reducing the balance due).

When you write a Trust Check for costs AND it is payable DIRECTLY to the third party (e.g., the Court), you need do only the "Withdraw Funds" Transaction. I use the Memo field to describe the payee, the purpose (e.g., filing fees or, in your practice, the amount of the fine), and anything else I wish the client to see (I've found it helps my paper trail if the narrative also contains my Trust Account Check Number).

Hope this helps.

Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Schoen, P.C. 1834 East Baseline Road, Suite 203 Tempe, Arizona 85283-1512 480-820-4505 (telephone) 480-820-1340 (fax) jeff@jschoenlaw.com www.jschoenlaw.com TM/BM 7.0 Enterprise
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