Personal Injury Settlement Estate Planning

Personal Injury Settlement Estate Planning

Personal Injury Settlement Estate Planning.  As many can attest, being injured in an accident is a terrifying experience that can have long lasting consequences. In addition to pain and suffering, you may need ongoing medical treatment and be unable to work. As you recover, you may have many questions: Why did this happen to me?  How will I pay for the medical bills?  When can I go back to work?  Will I ever be the same again?

Today’s guest blog is by Attorney Fred Cohen, founder, and CEO of Zola Suite Software.

 

Personal Injury Settlement Estate Planning

How to Establish an Estate Plan After You’ve Won a Personal Injury Settlement

Personal Injury Settlement Estate Planning

Not only will you be afraid and confused, you will also likely be justifiably angry if the accident was caused by another person’s reckless, negligent or willful conduct. That’s the bad news. The good news is that with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you may be able to obtain meaningful compensation.

Type of Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

By pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, you may win a settlement that includes both economic and non-economic damages. The purpose of economic damages is to compensate accident victims for financial losses stemming from the injury such as lost wages, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, and property damage. In addition, economic damages are designed to compensate victims for the pain and suffering they have endured. Lastly, if the at-fault party acted intentionally or maliciously, you may also be awarded punitive damages which are aimed at punishing and deterring such conduct.

It is important to note that the amount of a monetary award often depends on the type of accident in which you were involved and the extent of your injuries. In some states, for example, if you were injured in a car accident, you may only recover damages for pain and suffering if you suffered a serious injury or incur a basic economic loss greater than $50,000. Similarly, most states impose caps on punitive damages to prevent plaintiffs from seeking unfair awards and to make the system predictable. That being said, injury victims are often able to obtain significant compensation, sometimes amounting to millions of dollars.

While these funds can help you recover and get back on your feet, receiving such a windfall can be complicated, and raises all sorts of new questions: How will I manage the money?  How will I care for myself if I am disabled?  Will I still be eligible for public benefits such as Social Security Disability Benefits, Medicaid, or Medicare?  How can I plan for my future?

Personal Injury Settlement Estate Planning

What is Settlement Planning?

Thankfully, there is a relatively new and expanding area of law known as Settlement Planning that is dedicated to resolving these issues. Attorneys involved in this practice area work with recipients of a personal injury settlement, as well as those who receive an inheritance or a judgment.

The fact is that many people are not experienced with managing large sums of money, and handling a personal injury settlement can be quite complicated without proper guidance. By working with a Settlement Planning attorney,  it is possible to protect these proceeds, plan for the financial future, and if necessary, preserve eligibility for public benefits.

In particular, Settlement Planning involves a wide range of legal services, starting with assisting clients with resolving injury claims. It is also necessary to create the appropriate vehicles for managing the funds (such as Living Trusts and Special Needs Trusts), and identify qualified trustees to manage the settlement proceeds. These services may be necessary for a minor who suffers a catastrophic injury, an accident victim who is disabled, an adult who lacks capacity, or anyone with little or no experience managing money.

By collaborating with a network of qualified professionals, including certified public accountants (CPAs) and structured settlement brokers, settlement planning attorneys work to help injury victims maintain their quality of life and achieve their financial goals. Essentially, this requires devising a comprehensive estate plan that utilizes a variety of complex tools such as Special Needs Trusts, Structured Settlement Annuities, Guardianships, and Conservatorships.

Ultimately, the objective of Settlement Planning is to help injury victims preserve financial resources, provide for their lifetime needs, maintain eligibility for public benefits and take control of their destiny. If you or a loved one has received a settlement, you need the advice and counsel of an experienced settlement planning attorney. The road to recovery may be long, but with the help of a qualified and compassionate professional, you can plan for a brighter future.

Personal Injury Settlement Estate Planning

About The Author

Fred Cohen is the founder and CEO of Zola Suite, a legal practice management software company. After working as a lawyer, he noticed the challenges that law firms face when trying to run their practice efficiently, ultimately creating their flagship product. For more information about Fred visit his website: Zola Suite.