How Does an Attorney Trust Account Work?

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How Does an Attorney Trust Account Work?
Written By: Josh Lowell ~ 5/27/2024


In the realm of divorce proceedings, understanding the financial aspects of legal representation is crucial. Clients often have questions about attorney fees, retainers, and how funds are managed throughout their case. As a Washington divorce attorney dedicated to transparency and clarity, it's important to shed light on the intricacies of the trust account system.

Hourly Rate vs. Retainer Deposit

Firstly, let's differentiate between two common terms: the hourly rate and the retainer deposit.

  • Hourly Rate: Clients are billed based on the actual time spent by the attorney and their team on the case. This means that for every hour of work, there's a corresponding charge. In our office, each hour is actually broken down into 1/10th of an hour increments to reduce overall costs for the client.

  • Retainer Deposit: Instead of paying for each hour of service as it's rendered, clients must deposit a sum of money into the attorney’s trust account. This deposit acts as a financial retainer, ensuring that funds are available to cover future legal expenses. If the retainer is empty, the attorney will typically withdraw from representation.

Trust Account Management

At our office, we operate with a stringent trust account policy to safeguard client funds and ensure transparency in financial transactions.

Refunds for Remaining Funds: Any funds remaining in the trust account at the conclusion of representation are promptly returned to the client after final bills are settled. This ensures that clients are only charged for the services they've received, and any surplus is rightfully returned.

Non-Flat Fee Structure: It's important to note that our representation fees are not flat fees. Instead, they are drawn from the retainer deposit as services are provided. If the funds in the trust account become depleted, additional retainer deposits may be required to continue representation.

Allocation of Funds: Within the trust account, both attorney fees and certain case costs are managed. While attorney fees cover the legal services provided by our team, some case costs, such as filing fees or service of process, are also deducted from the trust account. However, it's essential to clarify that not all case costs are covered, such as mediation fees or expert expenses, which may require separate payment arrangements. Out of pocket costs will be discussed with each client on an individual basis.

Navigating the financial aspects of divorce proceedings can be daunting, but understanding how an attorney trust account operates can provide clarity and peace of mind. At our office, we prioritize open communication and transparency regarding fees and expenses, ensuring that our clients are fully informed every step of the way. Should you have any further questions or require clarification on our trust account policies, please don't hesitate to reach out. Your understanding and confidence in our financial practices are paramount to us as we strive to provide exceptional legal representation tailored to your needs. Call the law office of Magnuson Lowell PS today for a free telephone case evaluation.

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