When your child has been injured, money management might be one of the last things on your mind. Naturally, you’re focusing on your kid’s recovery and moving forward with your lives. The upcoming settlement is likely a welcome influx of financial support to cover injury-related costs, but what’s the plan for using the money to benefit your child for as long as possible?
If your child’s injuries are not permanent (meaning the settlement amount will outlive the costs related to the injury), a well-managed $100,000 settlement today could turn into $500,000 by the time the child reaches age 40. The caveat is that the money still has to be available when your child needs it.
That’s where settlement planners come in. Thanks to many state laws, there are lots of options for managing your child’s settlement. An experienced adviser will be able to help you choose the most beneficial one.
First and foremost, financial experts know that one of the biggest factors in settlement planning is timing. It can be difficult to figure out when to give your child access to the money. After figuring out the answer in your specific situation, you’ll be able to choose a great planning option that will meet your child’s future needs.
If you’re looking toward settlement in your child’s case, below are a few financial planning options to consider.
Blocked Accounts/Simple Guardianships
In terms of minors’ statutes, all states have a simple guardianship or blocked account. If you are recovering or settling the case for more than $10,000, most states under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) require court approval for any planned or unplanned disbursements.
There are two notable issues with blocked accounts, however. First, there is far less interest growth than with other options, as the money is kept in a savings bank account. Second, the entirety of the account will collapse to your child at age 18. If your child’s recovery is $100,000, that’s a lot of money for an 18-year-old to suddenly be able to access. On the other hand, if the recovery is only $10,000, it may not be a big issue. The viability of this option depends on your individual case, but for some, it could be a good answer.
529 Savings Plans
Many parents consider investing in a 529 savings plan if they are planning for their child’s college years. Some courts will allow these savings plans, but it’s critical for parents to receive unbiased advice on this option, especially regarding the associated fees and costs.
One of the main benefits of doing a 529 plan is that the money grows tax-deferred. Additionally, if the child attends college and uses the money for qualifying expenses such as tuition, books, supplies, and equipment, the distributions are exempt from capital gains or earned income.
Trusts are another great option for your child’s settlement. With as little as $50,000, a pooled trust will safeguard the assets when your kid is a minor, and it will act as the steward of the assets at age 18 and beyond.
Of course, no trust can legally prevent your child from gaining the legal right to the assets when he or she comes of age, but a trust likely accomplish what you want to do: grow the money safely, promote proper use of it, and help avoid expensive mistakes.
Questions? Get Professional Advice
These types of financial decisions carry lifelong implications, so it’s extremely helpful to consult with a seasoned settlement adviser before carving anything in stone. If you’re looking toward your child’s settlement and have begun planning for the future, feel free to contact my firm with any questions. Our financial experts can help you get on the right track.
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).