by John Darer CLU ChFC MSSC CeFT RSP CLTC
Together with my friends at the law firms of Kreindler & Kreindler and Duane Morris in New York City, along with several industry colleagues and other law firms, we saw to it that many 9-11 survivors were educated about structured settlements. Significant legislative efforts on the Federal and State level enabled structured settlements from the 9-11 Victim's Compensation Fund to even be possible.
Many of those9-11 survivors that I was honored to work with, elected to receive benefits from structured settlements and are glad they did. They continue to receive their structured settlement payments. Yet whomever was tasked with protecting the interest of Shanhellen Jimenez in 2003 or 2004, when such decisions had to be made, chose to forgo a structured settlement and the end result is that the daughter of 9/11 victim Elena Ledesma was alleged to have been bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by her godmother.
The New York Post carries the sad story that is a stark reality for some injury victims or survivors who receive "sudden money" and succumb to hangers on, people the victims think they can trust, even family members. Had Shanhellen been receiving a structured settlement, the only way that she would have been able to send money to what turned out to be failed business venture in the Dominican Republic, was if a judge approved a transfer of structured settlement payment rights was in Shanellen's best interest.
Coincidentally while reading the article, I received a call today from a 9-11 survivor who at age 18 and facing the typical temptations of an 18-year-old, in 2003, made the very mature decision to take a substantial portion of his recovery from the 9-11 Victim's Compensation Fund in the form of a structured settlement. We still keep in touch. Time and time again that mature decision has proved to be the right one.
I leave those of you who have lost a parent or loved one under tragic circumstances, who is facing an important financial decision about a legal recovery or inheritance, with something important to think about.
I want you to think about why you are getting this money. You can take steps to avoid "doubling down" on your loss.