The Settlement Alliance

Is a Settlement Planner Necessary When Your Client Doesn’t Want to Structure?

Is a Settlement Planner Necessary When Your Client Doesn’t Want to Structure?

Aug 4, 2017

A commonly held belief in the legal community is that settlement planners only provide structured settlement services. Unfortunately, subscribing to that misconception may result in missed opportunities to resolve your client’s settlement in a manner that delivers long-term financial security. While we believe that structures are a valuable financial option for most personal injury settlements, not all cases will be the right fit for a structure.

Here are 5 reasons to bring in a settlement planner on every case:

  1. Needs-based government benefits may be affected: Government benefits such as Medicaid, SSI, SNAP (food stamps), TANF, WIC, and subsidized housing use asset and/or income tests to determine eligibility. Assets as low as $2000 ($3000 if married) may disqualify a claimant from receiving needs-based benefits. A settlement planner needs to evaluate the impact of a settlement on government benefits and can work with the claimant to create a strategy for benefit preservation if needed.
  1. Your client may benefit from a Special Needs Trust: If your client is disabled and under age 65, placing the settlement proceeds in a special needs trust (SNT) can help preserve the proceeds, while allowing the claimant to maintain eligibility for needs-based government benefits. For claimants over the age of 65, a pooled special needs trust (PSNT) may be a viable option depending on their state of residence. Many trust companies have significant initial investment requirements, but there are options for both SNTs and PSNTs that allow deposits of $100,000 or less. A settlement planner can help coordinate the establishment of the trust and the vetting of potential trustees.
  1. Your client has outstanding liens: The presence of outstanding liens can be a major hindrance to settlement resolution. Moreover, making certain that there are no unrelated charges in the lien recovery is an important step that, if bypassed, can spell trouble for an attorney. A settlement planner can provide access to a reputable lien resolution expert to audit the lien report and assist your client with efficient lien resolution.
  1. Your client may need to consider a Medicare Set-Aside (MSA): If your client is currently on Medicare and the total settlement is greater than $25,000; or, your client has a reasonable expectation of Medicare enrollment within 30 months of the settlement date and a settlement greater than $250,000, they may need to place a portion of the settlement into a Medicare Set-Aside. With changes to the Liability Medicare Set-Aside process from CMS on the horizon, this is an especially important time to involve a settlement planner on your cases. A settlement planner can help determine whether an MSA is necessary and provide options to fund the set-aside allocation.
  1. A structured settlement may still be an option as a funding instrument: Most people understand structured settlements as an alternative to lump sum settlements. Even if your client doesn’t want to structure their settlement in the traditional sense, a structured settlement annuity can serve as a cost-effective funding tool for other types of financial vehicles. For instance, a structured settlement can be arranged to fund a special needs trust with regular payments. It can also be used to fund a Medicare Set-Aside account, saving the claimant money in the long run. A settlement planner will walk the claimant through all potential options to determine which alternatives best meet their needs.

Contact The Settlement Alliance to learn more

At The Settlement Alliance, we believe that all claimants deserve the opportunity to make informed decisions about their settlements. For more information, contact us today at 800-464-2500 or info@settlement-alliance.com.

We are proud to partner with the highest rated structured settlement providers in the industry:

  • American general Life Companies
  • Berkshire Hathaway Structured Settlements
  • Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston
  • MetLife
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • New York Life
  • Pacific Life
  • Prudential