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Trust & Fiduciary Accounts

Lawyers who practice law in Wisconsin are required to maintain their trust accounts and fiduciary accounts in financial institutions that will report overdrafts on these accounts to the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

SCR 20:1.15(i)(2) requires lawyers to annually certify that they are complying with trust account recordkeeping requirements.

As part of the annual membership dues and Wisconsin Supreme Court assessments collected each year, every lawyer licensed to practice in Wisconsin is required to supply this information to the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

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Lawyer’s obligations regarding these accounts

What is the obligation of a lawyer to distribute funds or property held in trust for a client to another person or entity?

Effective July 1, 2004, the Wisconsin Supreme Court repealed and recreated SCR 20:1.15, regarding lawyers' safekeeping of property, and trust accounts and fiduciary accounts. The amendments to SCR 20:1.15 were the most significant changes since the rule's inception in 1988. On April 12, 2007, the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved a petition filed by the State Bar to make certain modifications to the 2004 ruling, which was effective July 1, 2004.

The petition was based on the recommendations of the State Bar’s Trust Account Working Group, appointed to propose revisions the rules. The new rules will take effect July 1, 2007.

Contact the Office of Lawyer Regulation for guidance on compliance with the new rule.

Trust Account Certificates

Below is a link to a Trust Account/WisTAF Certificate that is normally found on your annual dues statement. In addition, we have included some Frequently Asked Questions regarding trust accounts and detailed instructions for completing your certificate.

Please follow these five easy steps to complete and submit your certificate:

  1. Download and print the form
  2. Fill in your firm’s or practice’s identifying information
  3. Select your trust account option
  4. Sign and date the certificate
  5. Mail, fax or email it back to the State Bar of Wisconsin (address and fax number are on form)