Trust Accounting & Financial Record Keeping Checklist
First, read thoroughly:
South Carolina Trust Accounting and Financial Recordkeeping Guide (viewable version)
DOWNLOADABLE VERSION (click on the link below)South Carolina Trust Accounting and Financial Recordkeeping Guide
- Open firm checking accounts. You should have a client trust account and a separate account for office operating expenses. If you are planning to handle real estate matters, it is a good idea to have one account for that and another for general matters. You may also need an account for payroll, if you have employees.
South Carolina requires you to have IOLTA trust account(s). Forms are available online at South Carolina Bar | Bar Foundation | IOLTA Program. If you have any questions about IOLTA not answered at www.scbarfoundation.org, contact the South Carolina Bar Foundation at (803) 765-0517 for more information.
Under SCRPC 1.15(h) you must direct your bank to report any non-sufficient funds (NSF) on your trust account to the Commission on Lawyer Conduct. If the bank does not agree to do this, you must bank elsewhere. Sample form directives to give your bank are available in PMAP forms.
Select accounting software that will balance the account and prepare income and expense reports.
Check out The ABA Guide to Lawyer Trust Accounts by Jay Foonberg from the Lending Library.
Decide whether you want to accept credit cards as payment. In South Carolina, law firms may accept credit cards. However, if you decide to accept credit cards, be sure you comply with all ethical rules. Don't forget: have a plan in place for handling bank service charges for credit cards. South Carolina Ethics Advisory Opinions 81-01, 96-06, and 98-08 address some aspects of accepting credit cards as payment.