Personal injury litigation is high-stakes for both the plaintiff and his or her attorney. It’s not just about winning the case and obtaining the maximum financial recovery. Litigation also requires making major financial decisions. For example: should the plaintiff’s primary caregiver hire an agency or an individual for attendant care? Does your client need to establish a trust or an MSA to continue receiving government benefits? Should your client receive their settlement in a lump sum, or should it be spread out over time?
Uncovering answers to these questions is not always an easy, intuitive process. Attorneys who enlist the help of a settlement planning firm get answers to these questions — and others they may not even know to ask – faster. These attorneys recognize that settlement planning is a necessary extension of the litigation process, as it helps ensure a plaintiff’s recovery is highly successful now and for their client’s future.
A comprehensive settlement planning firm functions like a family’s trusted wealth management office. Families with substantial assets often employ a family office to manage and preserve their wealth. A range of specialists — tax analysts, CPAs, portfolio and investment managers, wealth planners, trust officers and legal advisers — ensure they stay on the right track toward financial success. A settlement planner provides your client with this same concierge-type approach, but with a specialization in post-litigation scenarios. The team of professionals will work together to assess the plaintiff’s future needs and financial goals, and then use that information to develop a settlement plan.
What does a settlement planning firm do? Clients can expect the following services:
- Prior to settlement, the team will assist the plaintiff and the attorney in building a framework of knowledge needed to make sound settlement decisions.
- A settlement planner considers the totality of the individual’s needs (and the needs of his or her family) and then develops a durable recommendation for sustaining financial security with the settlement money.
- The firm acts as an advocate for the plaintiff and the attorney in managing additional financial challenges presented by settlement, i.e. repaying non-recourse funding, dealing with liens, resolving marital disputes and preserving government benefits
- A settlement planner will come up with a plan for investment management and steward the assets recovered in settlement.
By recognizing settlement planning as a logical step in the litigation process, you can help your client receive critical support before the settlement arrives and for years to come.
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).