Many attorneys still believe that a settlement planning firm is a one-trick pony, useful only when their clients are interested in structuring their settlement. However, there is a vast range of planning opportunities available to plaintiffs, and knowing them can ensure their long-term financial security.
Comprehensive settlement planning firms aim is to help ensure clients have a bright financial future and get the most out of their settlement for as long as possible. And while deferring compensation is one way to help achieve that success, it’s not the correct option for everyone. The best strategy may require a combination of wealth management, long term risk analysis, mindfulness of future healthcare costs, and protection under a trust. This may mean establishing one or more of the following:
- An asset protection trust
- A special needs trust
- Medicare compliance with a Medicare set-aside
- A wealth management plan
Combining these methods will help the plaintiff meet his or her immediate needs while preserving a portion of the wealth to take care of future needs. Generally speaking, there is room for a settlement planner in every case. Here are a few reasons why:
Without a proper plan, your client could lose certain government benefits. Needs-based government benefits like Medicare and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be affected when a plaintiff receives his or her settlement proceeds. Assets as low as a few thousand dollars could disqualify a claimant from continuing to receive these much-needed benefits. A settlement planner can evaluate the impact a settlement will have on government benefits and develop a durable strategy to avoid disqualification.
A trust may be the most effective way to protect your client’s assets and benefits eligibility. Disabled clients under the age of 65 can preserve their settlement proceeds and keep their needs-based government benefits with a special needs trust. A pooled special needs trust may be the most useful option for clients over 65. A settlement planning firm can establish the trust for your client, vet trustees, and ensure all decisions are made in your client’s best interest.
A Medicare set-aside (MSA) might be needed to preserve a client’s benefits eligibility. An MSA is an amount of money that’s put aside to protect a beneficiary’s future Medicare eligibility. This voluntary arrangement demonstrates a good-faith effort to fund future care without relying solely on Medicare. By establishing an MSA, plaintiffs are indicating to the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) that they are not trying to extract undue funds from the Medicare system. A settlement planner can determine if your client will need to establish an MSA to protect eligibility.
Liens can negatively affect settlement resolution. More obstacles lie ahead if your client has outstanding liens. A settlement planner can work with experts to audit the lien report, ensure there are no unrelated charges, and assist your client with an efficient resolution.
Deferred compensation may still be the answer (or part of it) to a durable financial plan. Structuring your client’s settlement, instead of handing over a lump sum of money, may still be a great option. Even deferred compensation methods are totally customizable these days, so a settlement planner can work with the plaintiff to find a great solution.
Settlement planning takes a holistic look at a plaintiff’s individual situation, including their lifestyle, finances and other factors. Based on this understanding, a settlement planner will then help develop a plan for the incoming settlement. Contact a comprehensive settlement planning firm to find out more about their services for plaintiffs.
ABOUT JOHN BAIR
John Bair has guided thousands of plaintiffs through the settlement process as co-founder of Milestone Consulting, LLC, a broad-based settlement planning and management firm. Milestone’s approach is comprehensive and future-focused. John’s team has guided thousands of clients by taking the time to understand the complexities of each case. They assess the best outcome and find the path that enables each client to manage their many needs. Read more about Milestone Consulting at http://milestoneseventh.com/.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).