A Structured Settlement is essentially an agreement under which an insurance company agrees to pay an individual a predetermined amount of cash for a fixed length of time if the individual meets an accident. The documents generated in a structured settlement include an agreement, a qualified assignment, an annuity application, a court order if a claim is made by a minor, and an annuity policy.
Payments for a structured settlement annuity can be made for the duration of the life of the claimant. The amount paid can comprise of equal installments, installments of varying amounts, and lump sums. The payments from a Structured Settlement Annuity are free from income-tax and are guaranteed by contract. Since a structured settlement annuity is meant for long-term financial security, it is important to get an assurance of the credentials of the annuity provider.
The periodicity of payment is entered into the settlement agreement. Factors that individuals can consider in deciding upon the date of commencement of payment, duration, and periodicity include monthly expenses, present age, extent of hazard in occupation, and retirement plans. In order to ensure that the payments remain tax-free, the structure of payments should not be altered once it has been agreed upon by both parties. In the case of a qualified assignment, the insurance company making the payment can transfer its obligation for payments to a third party.
There are issues that one should understand before opting for a structured settlement agreement. If payments are made to an estate, they are free from income tax but subject to estate tax. Purchasing a structured annuity can affect the availability of ready money with an individual.
State and federal laws govern the closing of a structured settlement. The closing process usually gets completed in 3-6 months. Federal laws stipulate that a court order be obtained by either the customer or the funding company that is purchasing the payment stream so that there are no tax liabilities. The manner in which the court order is obtained is regulated by various “Structured Settlement Protection Acts”, which are in force in 36 states in the United States.
A disclosure statement is made available to a customer 3 to 14 days before he receives the transfer agreement. The disclosure statement mentions the amounts to be paid to the customer and their due dates; the IRS Discounted Present Value of the amount at that given point in time; the Gross Advance Amount and the Annual Discount Rate; disclosures desired by the state; and a list of the fees and commissions incurred.
It is advisable to avail attorney advice before going in for a. In fact, in some states, it is a precondition to acquiring a structured settlement annuity. However, depending upon the laws being used for the transaction, customers do have the option of waiving legal representation in the Transfer Agreement or obtain an Estoppel letter from their attorney.
The funding company commences payment to an individual after acknowledging the assignment and receiving a court order. The payments start 30-45 days after the receipt of the court order.
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