Saturday, 19 November 2011

What are structured settlements?

First of all, exactly what are structured settlements and how do such arrangements work? When a person wins a lawsuit based on worker's compensation, personal injury, or medical malpractice, often the court will rule that compensation be paid in installments, either in small, regular amounts or a few lump sums over the years. Often, these payment plans will cease upon the death of the payee, whether or not there are dependents involved. Before accepting a compromise, injured persons need to work closely with lawyers to ensure that the settlement is going to benefit them to the fullest possible extent in order to prevent future financial distress and the loss of well-deserved compensation. This careful planning will prevent the undesirable necessity of finding a company to purchase a structured settlement from its possessor when he finds that waiting for a monthly check isn't a tolerable system.

If, however, a person has already settled a legal case and finds that the periodic payment plan is not working for him or decides that larger amounts of money are needed immediately in order to purchase medical equipment, a customized vehicle or home to accommodate injuries, or similar items, or does not expect to live long enough to benefit from long-term compensation, may want to consult various companies that offer to buy a structured settlement . Such companies will allow him to sign over annuities in exchange for immediately accessible cash. Persons considering this option should know that while their annuities are not subject to taxation, the lump sum received from a third party may very well be, causing them to lose even more well-deserved money. This is a decision that requires long, hard thought and should not be entered in to hastily or lightly, as its consequences can be disappointing at best and catastrophic at worst. If a person is confident in his investing and money-handling skills, he might be able to pull off the sale of his annuities aptly, but this is not always the case.

In general, this option is a very bad investment decision, as it is possible to lose up to half of one's settlement  money in the process. Plus, persons on a periodic payment are often unable to work and need the regular installments to meet their daily needs; if these payments cease and the person is unable to support himself by working due to injuries, his financial need will be much greater than before a company agreed to purchase a structured settlement from him. A Biblical proverb sums up this situation very well: "The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge" (Proverbs 14:18). This is a financial decision that could end in folly, especially if rushed into without sufficient forethought and good legal advice.

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