Structured settlements are often used in settlement of injury cases. A written agreement is used in resolving the case through the payment of periodic sums of money at agreed upon dates. It’s important to know these things before signing off on any structured settlement.
It’s an agreement
You may win a case by settling it, but a structured settlement can’t be forced upon you. Structured settlements can only be agreed upon by the parties in writing, usually in the form of a release of claims. No judge can order a structured settlement. They might only be called upon to approve it.
Know who is paying you
If the person responsible for your injuries was insured by a particular insurance company, the company isn’t the one who will be paying. It’s highly likely that the business is going to purchase an annuity to cover the amount of the structured settlement. The company that’s supposed to pay that structured settlement through the annuity could disappear in five years, leaving you with no more periodic payments. If an annuity is involved, be sure its from an established company.
Structured settlements can be flexible, but consider any flexibility issues before you sign off on a structured settlement agreement. Part of the settlement can be in cash. The balance can be structured. You can schedule the first payment one year, five years or even 10 years from now.
Changing structured settlements
You’ll probably hear some strong objections if you want to change a structured settlement. Changes will probably require court approval that you’re probably not going to get. The fact that you’re in perfectly good health and ran out of money is irrelevant.
Lump sum settlements in injury cases are generally tax free. If you invest that money and derive income, a tax consequence occurs. Any lump sum and periodic payments made under a structured settlement agreement are also generally tax free.
Selling structured settlements
All or part of a structured settlement is permitted to be sold for cash in many states, and one company that does this is myLumpsum.com. A company representative may even go to court with you to seek approval of the sale. Sales can be much easier to get approval for than changes
Many states permit structured settlements to be converted to cash. Cashing out can benefit a recipient, particularly if they’re looking at buying a new home or retirement in the near future. Always talk with your attorney before entering into any type of settlement.
This article is courtesy of Anita Ginsburg, a freelance writer from Denver who often writes about home, family, law and business. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing.