Payments from conveyancers trust accounts

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Trust account withdrawals, payments and authorisations

Cheques from the trust account must:

  • be marked ‘not negotiable’ and made payable to a specific person(s), not to the bearer or cash
  • include the name of the conveyancing business, with the expression ‘conveyancing business’ or ‘conveyancing business trust a/c’.

Each trust account cheque must be signed by you or an authorised employee. All payments made by electronic funds transfer (EFT) must be under the direction/authority of you or an authorised employee.

Recording trust account payments

As soon as practicable after making a payment you must use the trust account payments cash book to record, in date order, the:

  • date and number of the cheque/transaction
  • amount paid/transferred
  • name of the person that the payment is to be made to, or, if the cheque or payment is to an Approved Deposit-taking Institution (ADI), the name or BSB of the ADI and the name of the person receiving the benefit of the payment. For EFT payments you also need to record the name, number and BSB of the account the amount was transferred to
  • name of the person on whose behalf the payment was made on behalf of and the matter reference
  • ledger account to be debited
  • purpose of the payment.

You must record the same details in the trust ledger account but do not include the name of the person the payment was made on behalf of or the matter reference - these are in the title of a trust ledger account.

Journal transfers

A client can authorise journal transfers to transfer trust money from one trust ledger account to another.

The transfer must be authorised by the licensee or an authorised employee.

You must keep a trust account transfer journal if you use these transfers - pages and entries must be consecutively numbered.

You must record:

  • the date of the transfer
  • the name of the trust ledger account the money is transferred from (including identifying reference)
  • the name of the trust ledger account the money is transferred to (including identifying reference)
  • the amount transferred
  • enough details to identify the purpose of the transfer 
  • the matter reference
  • a short description of the matter
  • the name of the person who authorised each transfer.

You must also keep details of the authorisation of the transfer in the trust account transfer journal or in some other way.

Handling transit money

Transit money must be delivered/paid according to the client's instructions, or as soon as practicable if no time is specified.

You must record and keep particulars sufficient to identify the relevant transaction and the purpose for which the money is received. The same process should be followed for general trust money received in cash or by EFT.

If non-cash payment is made, you must record details to identify the transaction.

Withdrawing money for costs

Trust money can only be withdrawn if:

  • you have given your client a request for payment or a written notification of the payment 
  • there is a cost agreement or instructions authorising the withdrawal or you are owed money from a third party disbursement
  • you have the client’s written instructions and authorisation for the withdrawal 
  • you have sent a bill to the client for costs and within seven days of receiving the bill, they have not objected to the withdrawal
  • the client has objected but have not made a complaint to Consumer Affairs Victoria or an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) within 60 days
  • the money is otherwise legally payable.

Instructions/authorisations must be written and kept as a permanent record.

Handling controlled money

You must have one controlled account for each client. It must be held with an ADI and you must have exclusive control.

Any cash must be deposited in the controlled money account before further action.

A controlled money account name must include:

  • your name 
  • the words ‘controlled money account or CMA/c’ 
  • the account’s purpose and details to distinguish it from other accounts.

Steps for dealing with controlled money

As soon as practicable after receiving controlled money you must:

  • prepare a receipt and give the original to the client on request 
  • enter transaction details in the register of controlled money 
  • deposit the money into the controlled money account.

Preparing and issuing receipts

Controlled money must have a separate receipting system from all other accounts.

Receipts must include the:

  • date of the receipt, or the date the money was received
  • amount received
  • how the money was received (cash, cheque EFT)
  • the name of the person from whom the money was received
  • name of the client the money was received for and the matter description and reference
  • purpose for which the money was received
  • name and details identifying the controlled money account to be credited
  • legal or trading name of the conveyancing business and the words 'controlled money receipt'
  • name of the person who made out the receipt
  • receipt number.

No receipt is required for interest or other income received from the investment of controlled money and credited directly to a controlled money account.

Withdrawing controlled money

You must have the client’s written authorisation to withdraw and make payments from controlled money accounts.

A withdrawal must be made by you or directed by you or an authorised employee. For every withdrawal you must record in the register or electronically, in sequential order:

  • the date and number of the transaction
  • the amount withdrawn
  • if an EFT - the name and number of the account the amount was transferred to and the BSB number 
  • the name of the person payment is to be made to or, in the case of a payment to an ADI, the name or BSB number of the ADI and the name of the person receiving the payment 
  • the name of the person making the payment and the matter reference 
  • the purpose of the payment
  • the person/s effecting, directing or authorising the withdrawal.

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