954 Greentree Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15220 412-458-6000
November 7, 2021
We help injured people and their families plan for the rest of their lives.
So Where Should I send the Check?
Frequently, a case settles faster than anticipated and the money is about to be deposited to your IOLTA account. Your client wants to know how long it will be until he/she can access the funds. But, wait a minute, how will the delivery of these funds to your client affect her/him? Furthermore, how will the mere possession of these funds in your IOLTA account affect your client? 
A question we’ve heard many times before is “So where should I send the check?" As any good lawyer would respond: “It depends.” The lead time in advance of settlement should prudently be used to investigate how the receipt of a lump sum will affect the client. Let’s back up even further. Many clients end up structuring a portion (or all) of their settlement through a tax qualified annuity. In order to comply with the rules governing this arrangement, the settlement funds cannot even be delivered directly to the client (or your IOLTA account). The same due diligence required for a direct receipt of funds also applies to an indirect payment through a structured settlement. 
Understanding the client’s monthly income needs, government benefits availability and medical costs now and in the future are paramount to designing the appropriate delivery of settlement funds to the client. In order to accomplish this, our procedure is to interview the client in person, gather relevant information with a specially designed questionnaire, verify medical coverage options now and for the future, review Life Care Plans as well as Medicare Set Aside allocation reports along with a host of other factors. 
And remember, many injured clients are going to access the government benefits systems. These systems are highly sensitive to financial disclosures. Therefore, a distribution of a lump sum settlement or structure; or both, is going to require a written disclosure to agencies that oversee Social Security and Medicaid. A receipt of a settlement does not always mean that these benefits will be interrupted or terminated. However, proper notice of the transaction is required and the client should be aware of the changes that will occur once the settlement is received and how they need to navigate the benefits system to avoid disruption of benefits. 
In summary (and in answering the initial question posed here), the “check” could be sent to many places: outright to the client, to a structured settlement, to fund one or more trusts, to a court appointed guardian or another surrogate decision maker under a power of attorney, to a disabled or non-disabled family member as a gift, etc. Any one of these situations, or a combination thereof could be appropriate. But, we won’t know until we do our due diligence in advance of settlement. 
* Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation under authorization of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
We never charge a fee to review your pending liability case. Give us a call to discuss how we may be of assistance to you! 412-458-6000.
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The information contained in this newsletter is not legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.