Q: How do I pay the balance due for a matter from a retainer account?
A: By far the easiest way is to use automatic retainers. RTG Bills will calculate the balance due when it generates a bill, and it will create a transaction to use the retainer to pay the amount due. The procedure for setting up automatic retainers is given here.
At this point, we'll assume you want to apply the retainer yourself. We call that a manual retainer transaction. Click the Payments button, enter the matter number, and click New. Enter the Description as you want it to appear on the bill. Change the Type to Use Retainer. Enter the amount in the Total box (see below). If you have chosen a Standard Retainer Account for this matter, it should be entered already. If not, click Select and choose a retainer account. Click Save to save the transaction, then OK.
How do you know the proper amount? The Balance Due frame shows the amount due as of the last bill, modified by any payments and adjustments that you have entered since then ("other unbilled trxs"). However, it does not include unbilled fees and expenses that will appear on the next bill.
One way to get the amount due is to view or print a prebill.
There is another (somewhat tricky) way to get the right amount. After a retainer account has been selected, the screen shows the total Available in that account. Put that number in the Total box and press Tab. RTG Bills will allocate the retainer to fees, expenses, late charges, and taxes.
If the amount available exceeds the amount due at this time, a message box will appear to tell you that. Click OK. Notice that there is an amount in the Excess box. Uncheck Automatic Allocation and change the amount in the Excess box to zero. The Total is adjusted. Now the Total is the amount of the retainer that is actually needed to pay the balance due on the next bill.
Keep in mind that RTG Bills calculated the amount to pay from the retainer based on the fees and expenses you have entered, but not billed, for this matter. If you make changes before printing the bill, the retainer amount will be wrong. That's why it is better to use automatic retainers. RTG Bills does the calculation at the time the bill is printed, so it knows exactly how much of the retainer must be used.