Accounting for trust money - conveyancers

Skip listen and sharing tools

On this page: 

Reconciling and preparing statements for trust accounts

Within 15 working days after the end of each month, you must reconcile the trust records and prepare two statements:

  1. Reconciling the general trust account balance shown in the Approved Deposit-taking Institution (ADI) records with the balance of the conveyancing business trust account cash books. 
  2. Reconciling the balance of the trust ledger accounts with the balance of the trust account cash books and containing lists of the trust ledger accounts for each client, including name, reference number with a short description, and balance of each.

Each statement must show the date it was prepared.

Register of controlled money

If you receive controlled money you must maintain a register of controlled money deposits and withdrawals. Each controlled money account must have a separate register, which includes:

  • the name of the person the controlled money is held on behalf of
  • the person’s address 
  • details identifying the matter 
  • the date the money was received 
  • the receipt number 
  • the date the money was deposited 
  • the name of and details identifying the controlled money account 
  • the amount of money deposited 
  • details identifying the deposit 
  • any interest 
  • details of payments from the controlled money account unless electronically recorded.

You must keep controlled money information, including ADI statements, notifications of interest received and written authorisations from clients.

Preparing statements for controlled money

Within 15 business days after each month, you must prepare, and keep as a permanent record, a statement listing your controlled money accounts. It must show:

  • the name, number and balance of each account 
  • the name of the person that the controlled money is held for 
  • a short description of the matter each account relates to
  • the date.

Statements for clients

Other than transit money, you must issue a trust account statement to each client.

A separate statement must be issued for each trust ledger account and controlled money account.

Statements must contain:

  • all information that must be kept under Part 3 of the Conveyancers (Professional Conduct and Trust Account and General) Regulations in relation to the trust money included in the relevant ledger account or record 
  • any remaining balances of money.

Give a trust account statement to the client as soon as possible after:

  • completing the client’s matter, or 
  • the client requests the statement, or 
  • 30 June in each year, unless at 30 June: 
    • the ledger account or record has been open less than six months, or 
    • the balance of the ledger account is zero and no transaction affecting the account has occurred in the last 12 months, or 
    • a trust account statement has been given to the client within the previous 12 months and no subsequent transaction affects the ledger account.

For institutional clients (public company or subsidiary, foreign company or subsidiary, registered Australian body or financial services licensee):

  • you do not need to provide statements if the client directs you not to. 
  • the client can direct you to provide trust account statements as required (unless unreasonably onerous).

You must keep a copy of all trust account statements given to clients.

Computerised accounting systems

System requirements

You must keep a permanent chronological record of any entry in a computerised accounting system that relates to the client name, address, matter reference, matter description and ledger account number.

The system must:

  • reject transactions resulting in a debit balance to a trust ledger account, unless a record is made simultaneously in a form enabling a written or printed report listing all such occurrences by date 
  • be unable to delete a trust ledger account unless: 
    • the balance is zero and all outstanding cheques have been presented 
    • when the account is deleted, a permanent copy of the account is kept.
  • be unable to amend details of a transaction unless the amendment is separately recorded 
  • have numbered pages of each printed record 
  • order permanent records chronologically 
  • require mandatory input in every field of a data entry screen intended to receive information for trust records.

Hard copies

All trust records must be printable.

Back-ups

You must:

  • make and keep a back-up copy of all records at least once a month. 
  • keep a complete set of back-up copies in a separate location.

Unclaimed trust money

After costs owing are deducted, you may deal with the balance as unclaimed money under the Unclaimed Money Act 2008.

For detailed information about unclaimed moneys, visit the State Revenue Office website.

Where to next:

Find out about payments from trust accounts
Learn about receiving trust money
Find out about the auditing requirements for trust accounts
Use our conveyancers forms.