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As a settlement planner, I have witnessed the roller coaster of emotions many people experience as their lawsuit comes to a close. Of course, settlement proceeds often bring a sense of relief for injured plaintiffs, but the sudden influx of a substantial amount of money can also significantly change a family’s financial life. Without proper organization, bank accounts and financial information can get dangerously messy — and something important can fall through the cracks.

This is especially true for those who have kids with special needs; it’s critical to have a firm grip on all the accounts, government benefits, and trusts that come into play. Possessing the right guidance and knowledge is key.

Christine Benz, Morningstar‘s Director of Personal Finance, recently shared best practices for keeping your financial life organized on an ongoing basis. Below is a brief snapshot of her tips.

  1. financial planning for settlementStreamline your financial life by reviewing all your accounts (especially the “straggler accounts” you aren’t paying attention to) and ditching and consolidating the unfulfilling financial relationships.
  2. Go paperless to reduce clutter and reduce the risk for identity theft and other types of financial fraud.
  3. Use a password manager to keep track of your online account information and passwords and securely store them on your computer and smartphone.
  4. Keep important information safe but accessible by possibly employing a three-tier filing system: a safe-deposit box at the bank, a home safe or fireproof box, and a file cabinet or electronic file cabinet on your computer.
  5. Develop and maintain a master directory that lays out your key financial information. This document can come in handy in managing your affairs and guiding your loved ones if they ever need to assist with your financial affairs.

Benz’s suggestions are useful for anyone, especially with tax time in mind. But for people with disabilities (and the number of accounts, benefits, and other financial relationships that often follow), these strategies are necessary in streamlining and simplifying their financial life.

If you’re looking ahead to a settlement, consider talking to a financial planner to get started on the right foot. An expert can help you organize your finances and find solutions to ensure a streamlined financial life now and in the future.


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

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