Encumbrance definition

encumbrance account

Once both the purchase requisition and the vendor approve the pricing and order details, the pre-encumbrance phase evolves into the encumbrance phase. Now finalized numbers are in place, and there is a legal obligation to make the payment. This phase is recorded in the general ledger when using encumbrance accounting, even if you did not use the pre-encumbrance stage. During the initial pre-encumbrance phase, someone submits a request to reserve money for a future payment.

What is a type of encumbrance?

Common types of encumbrances include liens, deed restrictions, easements, and encroachments. Certain types of encumbrances, including liens and easements, give another party a claim to or right to use your property.

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Accurate expenditure control

The type of encumbrance which is created is either commitment or obligation. Every vertical market has its unique business needs, requiring software partners to develop specific capabilities and solutions for industry.


Think of encumbrances as reserved funds to later pay pre-determined liabilities that will occur later. There are different encumbrance types, ranging from reserves for payroll to money set aside by budgetary control groups for things like contingency expenses. Financial statements indicate how budgetary resources are allocated to payment commitments before the actual expenditure incurs with encumbrance accounting. Encumbrance accounting sets aside specific assets to pay anticipated liabilities.

Improved planning

The definition of an encumbrance is not the same as used in the real estate profession, where it means mortgages, property liens, and easements. Internal Encumbrances represent the commitment of funds generated by a Travel Authorization document. Our Purchase Orders are printed with our Terms and Conditions which form the contractual agreement of the transaction. All operational fund encumbrances will be closed out at the end of each fiscal year. The definition of asset encumbrance means different things to different job functions. Conveyance is the act of transferring ownership of a piece of property from one party to another. Other encumbrances, such aszoning lawsand environmental regulations, do not affect a property’s marketability but do prohibit specific uses for and improvements to the land.

  • Encumbrances are important in determining how much funds are available as a projected expense planning tool.
  • An encumbrance can impact the transferability of the property and restrict its free use until the encumbrance is lifted.
  • Budgetary control involves additional processes such as validating transactions to determine whether spending is permissible or whether sufficient funds are available.
  • Organizations account for future expenditures by enforcing budgetary controls and monitoring spending.

Encumbered funds are most commonly used in government accounting to make sure there’s enough money set aside to meet specific obligations and purposes. Encumbrance accounting helps your company with budget visibility and analysis by recording planned future payments. Rather than just looking at current transactions, this type of accounting encourages tracking upcoming expenses to help show a more detailed view of your cash flow.

After an Encumbrance is in Place

We saved more than $1 million on our spend in the first year and just recently identified an opportunity to save about $10,000 every month on recurring expenses with Planergy. Barbara is currently a financial writer working with successful B2B businesses, including SaaS companies. She is a former CFO for fast-growing tech companies and has Deloitte audit experience. Barbara has an MBA degree from The University of Texas and an active CPA license. When she’s not writing, Barbara likes to research public companies and play social games including Texas hold ‘em poker, bridge, and Mah Jongg.


This naming makes more sense when you realize that encumbrance enables budgetary control by recording money that is allocated for future projects, preventing over-expenditure of a budget. An important part of business finance and cash flow is making sure you understand how much of your available funds you can afford to place in reserve for the encumbrance account. Your reserve funds should be treated as if they don’t exist, and only dipped into for approved purchases or expenses.

Explaining the encumbrance accounting process

A Encumbrance Accounting order, also known as a PO, is a legally binding document and the first step in the purchase-to-pay process. Are you interested in finding out more about how automation can empower your team and increase your visibility and expenditure control? Encumbrance accounting has three main phases, in line with those for procuring goods or services. Note that after all closing entries have been made, the balance in the Fund Balance ……

Organizations use budgetary controls to minimize maverick spending and avoid overspending. It allows government entities, nonprofits, and some businesses to more effectively monitor and control how much they spend. They’re better able to keep their expenditures within the allocated budget and more accurately predict cash flow.

Special Consideration: Use in Accounting

Anderson is CPA, doctor of https://www.bookstime.com/, and an accounting and finance professor who has been working in the accounting and finance industries for more than 20 years. Her expertise covers a wide range of accounting, corporate finance, taxes, lending, and personal finance areas. You can enter encumbrances up to the last period of your latest open encumbrance year. With Grant Management built into our software, you won’t need separate project management software, anymore. Once configured the system automatically creates Redistribution and Due to/Due from entries while end users simply complete their daily tasks.

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