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 a 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 mimics 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 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 will use the account. 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, decide if the retainer should show on invoices if it is the default trust account, and determine 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 deposit to trust/retainer, select the retainer account, and enter the other information in the dialog. If you choose a retainer account, the available account in the "Deposit To" field changes from your trust accounts to your Operating bank accounts.
You can also make a payment to a retainer using the payment dialog. While a deposit to retainer is preferred, if the full payment is going to the retainer account, sometimes you will need to apply the leftover of an overpayment to something. You can do this when there is a positive "Unapplied Amount" by pressing 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, no trust bank transfer is needed after saving the payment as the money stays in your operating account. The only accounting transaction made to credit debits your Operating account and credits the retainer liability account you set.
You can set retainer accounts to automatically add a replenishment charge to a client's bill when the account drops below a certain amount. This works essentially 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 isn't a way to specify which account should be replenished first. If your client wishes to pay part of the amount due, then collect it through other means and manually enter the deposits to trust/retainer.
If this section isn't showing up on your bill, you'll want to make sure the "Show Retainer Activity on Bill" setting is enabled in the System Settings*.
*Admin-level users will have access to the System Settings
Payment Out of a Retainer Account
You can pay out of a retainer account in the same ways you can 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 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, there will be no trust bank transfer.