by John Darer® CLU ChFC MSSC CeFT RSP CLTC
Structured settlements are sometimes established a decade or more before payments are due. That's why it's important to remember a couple of key points.
A. Keep copies of your settlement paperwork in a safe place. Always get a complete set of closing documents from your lawyer.
- Copy of structured annuity contract(s). Copy of Court order approving the settlement, if you were a minor, an incompetent, the settlement was from a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, or if the settlement otherwise required the approval of a judicial authority or board, such as a workers compensation settlement.
- Copy of fully executed Settlement Agreement and Release
- Copy of fully executed qualified assignment, qualified assignment and release or qualified assignment release and pledge agreement.
- Copies of any relevant guarantees
- Copies of relevant contact names and phone numbers.
On larger settlements there may be more than one structured annuity company and therefore more than one qualified assignment.
B. Do These Things One Month Before Payments Are Due
- Contact the structured annuity company or your settlement planner and verify the start date for your benefits. List of Structured Settlement Annuity Issuer Customer Service Phone Numbers
- If you are due to receive payments on a monthly or frequent basis, then set up an electronic deposit. Not only do these deposits generally mean that good funds available for use on the day of deposit, but you can avoid having to go down to the bank to make a deposit and/or wait for the check to clear. Such a process can take 3 days or more!
C. Make Sure Your That The Address/Account of Record With The Insurance Company is Up To Date
- If you have moved since the structured settlement was established
- If you are on direct deposit and have changed banks
- If your parent or spouse was receiving a structured settlement and you know that you are the beneficiary, make sure that the structured annuity company has your current address.
- If your payments go to a trust, the trust company should handle this function, but generally the terms of most settlement agreements put the responsibility on the Plaintiff or the Payee.
D. Keep Your Beneficiary Information Up To Date
Review your beneficiary designations as you go through life changes to determine if the designation meets your current wishes.
- Have you married?
- Have you been divorced?
- Have there been any children?
- Is your beneficiary still living?
Naming a beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary assures smoother sailing for your heirs after you die. Don't leave it up to a judge and have your estate incur unnecessary legal and executor or administration expense.
E. Keep Track If You Have Sold Any Structured Settlement Payments
F. Keep This Information With The "If I Die" Instructions to Your Family.
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