Table of Contents
- What is it
- Making a Retainer Account
- Paying to a Retainer Account.
- Retainer Replenishment
- Payment Out of a Retainer Account
What is it
Retainers in Centerbase are way to accept payment from your client in advance, leave the money in your operating account, and still keep track of it on the matter. In Centerbase this works by mimicking some of the functions of trust accounts while allowing the retainer money to be left in your operating account(s). Since it is mimicking trust accounts you will need the same permissions used to access trust to access retainers. All retainer transactions will be stored as trust transactions, but marked as being for a retainer. There will be no trust bank transfers from using retainer accounts as the money is already in an operating account.
Making a Retainer Account
You can make a retainer account by going to the matter that the account will be for. Click on the cog then Trust and Retainer. Press the Add button to open the “Add New Trust/Retainer Account” dialog. Check the box for “Is Retainer Account” and the dialog will change slightly, removing the Bank Account field. This is because retainer accounts are not linked to a specific operating account.
From here you have the same options as a trust account, you can set an income or liability account to track retainer transactions in, decide if the retainer should show on invoices, if it is the default trust account, and if it should have auto-replenishment.
Paying to a Retainer Account.
Paying to a retainer account is the same as paying to a trust account. You can make a deposit to trust/retainer and select the retainer account and enter the other information on the dialog. If you select a retainer account then the available account in the deposit to field change from your trust accounts to your operating bank accounts.
You can also make a payment to a retainer using the payment dialog. While the deposit to retainer is preferred if the whole payment is going to retainer some time you need to apply the leftover of an overpayment to something. You can do this when there is a positive “Unapplied Amount” by pressing on the Apply button in the bottom right of the payment dialog. From there you have the option to apply that amount to the matter overpayments, client overpayments, trust, or retainer. Unlike payments made to trust in this way, there is no trust bank transfer needed after saving the payment as the money stays in your operating account. The only accounting transaction that is made to credit debt you operating, and credit the retainer liability account that you set for that retainer account.
Retainers can be set to automatically add a replenishment charge to a client’s bill when the account drops below a certain amount. This works largely the same as trust replenishment except that the money will be deposited into your operating account instead.
If you are using LawPay and your client gets a bill that requires replenishment of more than one trust or retainer account they will have a more limited option for payment. They will be able to pay the current charges or the total amount due but not a partial payment. This is because there is not a way to specify which account should be replenished first. If your client wishes to pay on part of the amount due then collect it though other means and manually enter the deposits to trust/retainer.
Payment Out of a Retainer Account
You can payout of a retainer account in the same ways that you pay out of a trust account. You can write a check from a retainer account. Unlike trust accounts when you write a check from a retainer account you can use any of your operating accounts that are set up for check writing.
Like trust accounts, a check will make a disbursement transaction. You can also make a manual disbursement if you don’t want to or can’t write a check.
You can also pay a bill from a retainer, just like trust accounts any retainer accounts can be selected as the “Type” on the payment dialog. Again since the money stays in your operating account so there will be no trust bank transfer.