These questions and answers are designed to help with the completion of the Annual IOLTA Compliance Reporting form – the printed or online version.
Answers to Questions about the IOLTA Compliance Report
A. We encourage online filing at the judiciary web site, where you can access your IOLTA Compliance Report. Go to the “Compliance Determination” section, check the appropriate box or boxes, “sign” the form by entering your initials where indicated, and click submit to complete your IOLTA reporting requirement. Please print the Confirmation Report for your records.
Alternatively, you can complete and return a hard copy of the form to the Administrative Office of the Courts at the address on the back of the form. Please be sure to make a copy of your completed form for your records.
A. You can access the online filing system and search using your name, NOT your client protection fund ID number. If there is a date in both the IOLTA and Pro Bono columns, you have filed both reports. However, if one or both of the column(s) is blank that means the report was not filed.
Note: Electronic filing is instantaneous and the dates will appear immediately after filing. It can take three days after receipt of paper forms for the system to be updated if you send the form(s) in the mail.
A. If you have any new IOLTA accounts, you would check Box #1 under the “Compliance Determination” section. Our online form indicates the IOLTA accounts that we currently have on file for you in our database. Please simply confirm whether these accounts are still open or if they have been deleted.
If you have current IOLTA accounts at more than one financial institution and will not be submitting your form online, please make copies of the form and complete a copy for each account. If you have multiple IOLTA-eligible accounts at the same institution, simply list all account numbers in the space provided. Attach additional sheets if necessary and return this to the Administrative Office of the Courts.
A. If you have IOLTA accounts that are not listed on the lower part of the form, it is due to one or more of the following reasons:
- You are part of a law firm and your funds are deposited into the law firm’s IOLTA account. The accounts may belong to many attorneys in that firm but will be listed only under only one person’s name, the IOLTA Reporting Attorney (usually the signer unless you have indicated otherwise).
- You have opened an account(s) within the past 90 days.
There is no need for you to take any action if any of the above describes your situation. If you have accounts that you believe should be listed, please contact your financial institution to assure accurate reporting in the future. Meanwhile, you may check Box #1 to complete this report and list the account information.
A. Check Box #2a under the “Compliance Determination” section. Please be sure to fill in the name of the IOLTA Reporting Attorney for your law firm. The Reporting Attorney shall be authorized to report on all law firm IOLTA accounts. If you do not know the name of the IOLTA Reporting Attorney, please put in the name of your law firm.
Please note that the only the report by your firm’s IOLTA Reporting Attorney will list all of the banks and account information. You are not required to list the bank account information on your individual compliance report but you must submit an individual compliance report with your signature, listing the name of the IOLTA Reporting Attorney or law firm.
A. Yes. Please note that you do not have to fill in the account information, but you do have to return the form. Check Box #2a under the “Compliance Determination” section. If you do not know the name of the IOLTA Reporting Attorney, put in the name of your law firm. See also the preceding question.
A. Check Box #2b under the “Compliance Determination” section. The IOLTA Reporting Attorney shall be authorized to report on all law firm IOLTA accounts. You should list all of the banks and account information for your firm, fill in your name as the IOLTA Reporting Attorney for your law firm and sign the form.
A. A solo practitioner should check any applicable box except those pertaining to law firms (Box #2a and Box #2b). You do not have to fill out the “Name of Firm IOLTA Reporting Attorney.” See other questions and answers for guidance.
A. If your escrow account is set up as a non-interest bearing account and not an IOLTA because it usually contains less than $3,500 on a monthly basis, you may elect to waive participation in the IOLTA program, pursuant to Maryland Code, Business Occupations and Professions, Section 10-303(c) by checking Box #3 under the “Compliance Determination” section.
Please note that if you need to change the status of your trust account(s), you must call the bank and follow the bank’s procedures. Maryland Legal Services Corporation and the Court of Appeals may not convert the account(s) for you.
A. If you are a Maryland admitted attorney, but practicing in other jurisdictions and if you participate fully in the other jurisdiction’s IOLTA program, check Box #4 under the “Compliance Determination” section and fill in the name of at least one one of the other jurisdictions in the space provided. It is not necessary to provide your out-of-state IOLTA account information.
A. If you and/or your firm are fully participating in the IOLTA program of other jurisdictions, see answer to question above. Any IOLTA-eligible funds that are NOT maintained in other jurisdiction’s IOLTA program are fully subject to Maryland’s IOLTA requirement and such accounts must be reported accordingly.
A. You do not have to open an IOLTA account to be in compliance with IOLTA. If you have no client accounts yet, check Box #5 under the “Compliance Determination” section. Please note that an IOLTA account must be established if you are holding short-term or nominal trust funds of at least $3,500 on a regular basis. If this is not the case, you are eligible for a waiver, and you may open a non-interest bearing escrow account. You may request a waiver by checking Box #3 under the “Compliance Determination” section. For more information about establishing IOLTA accounts, see Questions 22 and 23 below.
A. MLSC cannot change your address. You can change your address with the Client Protection Fund online at http://www.courts.state.md.us/cpf/, or in writing directly to the Client Protection Fund at the address listed below or via fax at (410) 897-0555.
A. No. Financial institutions that are members of the IOLTA Honor Roll help support legal aid to Maryland’s low-income population by paying premium rates on IOLTA accounts. While we strongly encourage attorneys to use Honor Roll financial institutions and help support the provision of critically needed legal aid to those Marylanders unable to afford such services, you are not required to do so.
A. Lawyers continue to exercise their discretion in determining whether a given client’s trust deposit is of sufficient size or will be held for sufficient duration to justify the cost of being individually invested for a client.
Funds are placed in an IOLTA account only when they are nominal in amount, or being held for a short period of time. If the trust funds are not placed in an IOLTA account, they shall be otherwise deposited or invested, separate from the attorney’s own accounts, as directed by the client or determined by the attorney.
A Maryland State Bar Association study estimated that it would cost at least $50 to create and administer a separate client interest-bearing account. Therefore, $50 serves as a benchmark for a lawyer to place the client funds into an IOLTA account when “the interest that it would earn: (1) would not exceed $50; or (2) would exceed $50 but would not cover the cost of administering an interest bearing account on which interest is payable to the client or beneficial owner.” MD. Bus. Occ. Code Ann. §10-303.
A. The process of establishing an IOLTA account is simple, and once it is done no further time or effort on your part is required. Fill out the Notice of New IOLTA Account form and submit it to an approved IOLTA financial institution and send a copy to MLSC. That is all you have to do! MLSC and your financial institution will do the rest.