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Trust Your Lawyer So You Can Trust Your Accountant

Trust funds are necessary vehicles used to apply responsible financial security to individuals which are normally underage children and non-profit organizations. Cash as well as various financial products are pooled and distributed under certain trust agreements and legal guidelines. Trust funds are doled out in allotments that cover living expenses, rent or mortgage payments, insurance premiums, school or university tuition, taxes, etc.

Trust accounts are normally overseen by either a chosen bank or an authorized custodian such as a trust company. Record keeping and verification of funds moved into and out of trust accounts, as well as any associated fees and charges, falls under the category of trust accounting which is normally carried out by a hired accountant or broker.

How Trust Accounting Works

Brokers use accounting methods to keep track of trust funds and any associated movement. They might use a system requiring ledgers, index cards, binder notebooks, or computerized programs. Regardless of the accounting method used, license law requires that that both deposits and disbursements be recorded. However, it is up to each individual broker to operate under sound business practices in all their operations.

Trust funds work on a money in / money out basis. This implies that funds are deposited into the account and then one or more disbursements from that deposit are carried out at later times to meet certain needs. The end result should ultimately lead to a zero balance. Both trust fund deposits and disbursements are listed within the broker’s ledger in chronological order which supplies a running balance.

Trust accounting becomes confusing, however, due to the fact that varied disbursements made from each individual deposit are recorded separately and can be separated from its deposit by numerous lines or pages. The zeroing out process can become extremely tedious, especially when multiple and frequent transactions are made through the trust fund account. Most accounts require that the broker maintains additional records and pertinent information, particularly if they are managing community organizations or properties.

Why a Dependable Lawyer Is Needed

A lawyer is often required to ensure that all legal guidelines and regulations are maintained during the life of the trust fund. Various legal issues can arise with trust funds which require legal knowledge and representation. Problems and disputes can arise over the operations of the trustee who has a the responsibility of providing funds to the beneficiary, conflicting interests, breaches in trust fund guidelines, etc. If the beneficiary is extremely young or lacks the mental capacity to be involved in the trust fund process, it is often up to the lawyer to oversee transactions and monitor them for errors, fraud, or inappropriate influence.

However, lawyers are not perfect and they can also make mistakes and even engage in fraudulent activities. It can sometimes be tempting for legal representatives to “borrow” funds from trust accounts, combine money from a client’s trust fund with personal accounts, or fail to track trust funds properly.

Covering All Bases

As you can see, the process of trust fund management can become extremely complicated. Mismanagement of trust funds, whether made erroneously or purposefully, can occur from both the trust fund broker and the monitoring lawyer. For this reason, it is well worth the effort to research and ensure that both a dependable trust fund account and trust fund lawyer are hired. As the old saying goes “two eyes are better than one”.

About the Author:


Hameroff Law Firm has been providing personal injury law services to the people of Southern Arizona for decades. Contact us if you are injured through no fault of your own, we may be able to help you earn financial compensation.

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