Monday, February 10, 2014

Structured Settlements and the Importance of Factoring

If you have ever been involved in a medical malpractice law suit, an accident or have been awarded a lump sum of money you are receiving a structured settlement. This form of payment, which can also be called an insurance annuity, is a way an insurance company guarantees you your monthly, quarterly, or yearly payment. You, the annuitant, or policy holder is guaranteed to receive the payout over a number of payments.

Structured Settlements are set up as an annuity contract with a single premium contract. They are held by the institution that is responsible to carry out the future payments. The Congress has approved the use of structured settlements as a way to guarantee that the injured parties have the continuing means to support themselves and to reduce the chance of misappropriation of funds that would be caused by a lump sum distribution. Under IRS tax law, structured settlements are encouraged. Each and every payment, including earnings under the annuity are excluded from taxable earnings in future tax returns, according to IRC section 104(a)(1) or (2).

Structured settlements are legal documents designed to protect you and give you specific legal rights concerning your financial dispersements. But like any legal framework you should be aware of the pros and cons of using such an instrument.

One of the most beneficial aspects is that any interest or capital appreciation that happens over the life of the instrument is totally free from paying any income taxes. This benefits you with more money during your contract. When you first begin your settlement you can state the terms that best suit your needs. If you need the payments to start right away or be postponing for a certain amount of time, this stipulation can be put in your contract. You can even set the number of years or payments to fit in with your age or life position. You don’t have to worry about market fluctuation because your payout is not tied to any investment market. Lastly, should the policy owner die, a beneficiary can be designated to receive the balance of the payments.

Naturally with all the good benefits there are a few disadvantages. One being that after all the details of the contract is set, they can’t be changed. If you want to shorten the term or increase the payment, you won’t be able to do it. Even if an emergency arises you will not be able to access your money or change any detail of your contract.

As with all legal contracts, you need to be aware of the benefits and the pitfalls. Handling the process alone is not a good idea. You should have legal counsel who specializes in the process. You need to have someone in your corner who can guide you through the pros and cons of structured settlements.

Structured settlements have been a great help to those injured and in need of a continuing stream of money for medical and living needs. It’s a life line that has given many a way to live their lives with dignity. But with all these great benefits there are people who don’t want their settlement and want to convert it to a lump sum payment. The one and most common reason is they have a pressing expense in need of cash fast. But remember any company that would buy your contract is not going to pay you full value of the remaining amount.

The companies that buy structured settlements at a discount are called factoring companies. The amount of discount can fluctuate in a range of between 7 to 15 percent. Your million dollar settlement can turn into $300,000 or less.

Why such a difference? A dollar today is worth more than a dollar 20 years from now. It seems an incredibly small amount but isn’t always a bad decision. But it is a decision that requires needs proper counsel from a qualified advisor.

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