If you’ve won a personal injury settlement, this money could affect the value of your assets.
This money could be immensely beneficial for accident victims, as any experienced personal injury lawyer could attest, but it’s wise to understand how a settlement may affect your own estate.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning involves dividing your assets among your dependants. You have the ability to state which individuals should receive which assets, and when they should receive them. You can divide your assets between family members and close friends, or you could even leave your assets to a charity. Proper estate planning can help reduce (or even eliminate) certain state and/or federal taxes on your assets and income when you pass away.
Collecting Financial Documentation After an Accident
The typical personal injury settlement can account for many financial losses. An injured victim might end up collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in a settlement, especially if he or she suffered disabling injuries. This can have a major impact on the individual’s personal income or assets. In order to document expenses and compensation, the individual may need to adjust certain documents to reflect their current state.These documents may include wills, documents pertaining to estate planning, and other paperwork that may be necessary in a legal setting.
It is important to be wary of over-reporting assets in this case. If expenses are not recognized accurately, the estate may be assessed at a higher value and therefore may receive higher federal estate taxes.
Federal and State Taxes and Estate Planning
Some federal estate taxes can be exempt, but there is a set limit for exemption. Once a settlement reaches the limit, the recipient may need to change their estate plans to comply with federal regulations. State estate taxes are not fixed — some states charges no property tax at all — so it’s important to know the laws in your own state. You could have to pay both types of taxes or only one.
Creating a Solid Investment Plan
After receiving a settlement, you may want to hire someone who can invest your money in a safe and effective fund. It’s important to work with someone who will make sure that you are able to pay for current expenses, while still keeping your award safe from unnecessary fees and taxes.
It may be very beneficial to your family and loved ones to plan out your estate thoroughly with an estate lawyer Sacramento trusts, especially if a personal injury award is involved. If you’re ready to take control of your assets, contact an estate planner today.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning after a personal injury.
Thanks to our friend and contributor from Vandrew LLC, a Monmouth County, NJ estate planning law firm, for their insight into estate planning practice. He is licensed as an attorney, CPA, and CFP and assists clients in making sure their loved ones are protected.
Can a court mandate funds set aside in a Trust be used to pay a personal injury judgment or settlement?
The short answer is MAYBE.
In most personal injury cases (i.e. – car accident cases), the person at fault often is insured, and any settlement or judgment in the case gets paid by the insurance company. But sometimes there is no insurance to pay a judgment or settlement, and other times the insurance policy has a maximum pay-out that doesn’t cover the entire amount owed. In those instances, it’s good to know what your options are for getting the money you’re entitled to.
Many people think getting a judgment or agreeing to a settlement is the same thing as getting money when that’s not the case. Both a judgment and an agreed settlement order in personal injury lawsuits (or most lawsuits) are enforceable court orders that often mandate that the Defendant pay a certain sum of money to the plaintiff, but Defendants aren’t always quick to pay the money they owe. In those cases, it’s important to understand what you can do to make sure you get the money you’re owed.
If you’re the victim of a personal injury and you find yourself with a settlement or judgment, collecting on that judgment or settlement can be tricky and it would be best if you consulted with a Chicago collection attorney for specific advice. An entire separate blog post (or several) can be written on the various methods of collecting on a judgment, but the most relevant ones for our purposes are as follows:
1) Citation to Discover Assets
This is a post-judgment proceeding in which the judgment debtor is ordered to appear in court, get sworn under oath, and answer very probing and personal questions about his/her finances, assets, and anything else that can lead to information on sources to pay the outstanding personal injury judgment. Ordinarily, judgment debtors are also required to bring in hard copies of requested documents to Citations to Discover Assets hearings as well – things such as tax returns, pay stubs, etc. It’s through this judgment collection method that you are likely to discover that the Defendant has a Trust that could potentially be used to satisfy the judgment.
2) Citation to Discover Assets to a Third Party
This is a proceeding you can use to discover whether a third party is in possession of property or money belonging to the judgment debtor, and then request the court to order that it be turned over to you. This is most commonly used against banks where the debtor is believed to have accounts.
Assuming that you learn that the Defendant from your personal injury lawsuit has a Trust with funds in it that can satisfy your outstanding judgment or settlement – can you get a court to order that such funds be turned over to you? ANSWER: It depends on the type of trust.
Revocable Living Trusts are one of the most common types of trusts due to their ability to save families the expense and hassle of probate after a person’s death, but they are also a trust that creditors (such as people with personal injury judgments) can get to. The reason is that although revocable living trusts are considered legal entities, the person who owns the trust often names him/herself as the trustee, keeping complete control over the trust assets, and the trust is revocable – which means he/she can revoke it at any time (once again putting the trust’s assets in his/her name). In other words, the money or property in a revocable trust is always in the control of the trustee, so creditors are able to get to it.
In contrast, money that’s in irrevocable trusts, those that are not controlled by the judgment debtor and cannot be revoked, is generally unavailable to judgment creditors. Some people even go as far as to create complex trusts with a trustee located overseas or offshore, or set up limited liability companies for the purpose of protecting their trust assets.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from William Mazur Attorney at Law for their insights into collecting after an injury judgement or settlement.
Child support is taken very seriously in our country. The obligor (the parent who is required to pay the child support) is required to pay child support to the obligee (the parent who is receiving the child support) until either the child attains the age of 18 or the child finishes high school. Even if the obligor loses their job, the money remains owed and is not dischargeable. If the obligor fails to pay child support as ordered by the court, the obligee may file a motion to enforce the obligor’s child obligation. Allowing your arrears balance to build up could result in loss of your driver’s license, wage garnishment directly out of your paycheck, immediate garnishment of your tax return, and even garnishment of your bank account(s).
In Pennsylvania the domestic relations section is granted the power to initiate judicial proceedings to obtain a settlement from the obligor in the best interest of the child support obligee via 23 Pa.C.S.A. 4305(a)(11). “Overdue support shall be a lien by operation of law against the net proceeds of any monetary award…owed to an obligor, and distribution of any such award shall be stayed in an amount equal to the child support lien provided for…” Pennsylvania goes as far as requiring a prevailing party of a monetary award to provide under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 a statement that includes that party’s full name, mailing address, date of birth and Social Security number. The person is also required to provide written documentation of arrears from the Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement System website or, if no arrears exist, written documentation from the website indicating no arrears. The statute further provides that if there are arrears, the attorney shall make payment of any lien to the department’s state disbursement unit from the net proceeds of any monetary award.
However, a Circuit Court in Maryland in 2010 decided that money recovered from a personal injury lawsuit is exempt from garnishment. This was then affirmed by the Special Appeals Court.
With regard to calculation of child support, a personal injury settlement could be viewed as either a reimbursement for damages sustained (pain and suffering) or a payment for future loss of income, or even both. States have differing opinions on whether or not a personal injury settlement should be considered income. Some states view settlements as reimbursement for damage to an individual’s body similar to how vehicles are damaged in accidents. In that case, generally a lump sum, extraordinary and nonrecurring payment is made to an individual. Many states would not consider that income when calculating income for child support purposes. A structured settlement or annuity however may be viewed as income because it is generally for the purpose of replacing income that is not able to be earned as a result of an injury. This would generally be calculated as income for support purposes.
You may want to contact a family law lawyer Pottstown, PA relies on or your personal injury attorney to discuss your settlement and the possibility of the your settlement proceeds being frozen and applied to your arrearage balance before accepting any settlement. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Rick Linn, LLC Attorneys at Law for a free consultation on your issue.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Rick Linn Attorneys at Law for their insight into family law practice.
- Slip and fall incidents.
- Failure of a property owner to warn a visitor about a potentially hazardous situation.
- Failure of a property owner to provide adequate security.
- Animal attacks resulting in bites or other injuries.
- A visitor to a property being exposed to poisonous chemicals or inhaling toxic fumes.
- Accidents involving a property owner’s failure to remove snow and ice from structures such as parking lots and steps.
- Accidents occurring in and around swimming pools.
- Injuries sustained on amusement park rides.
- The defendant was the actual owner of the property where his or her accident occurred and injuries were sustained.
- The plaintiff’s injuries are clearly related to the accident in question.
- Depositions are used to establish what a witness or party knows about the suit and to preserve that information in a formal manner.
- Written notice of the time and place of the deposition is given ahead of time.
- A witness who is not one of the parties to the case may be subpoenaed to attend.
- The questions and answers are recorded in writing by the New York court reporter. Sometimes, a tape recording or video of the deposition will be made.
- The lawyers for each side are given a chance to ask questions, including cross-examination questions.
- The questioning is done formally, just as it would be done in a courtroom during a trial.
- If the witness refuses to answer a question, the court might, at a later time, order the witness to answer.
- In addition, there may be objections or conversations between the lawyers.
- Everything spoken is recorded unless the attorneys agree to have a conference off the record.
- Doctors who have treated the plaintiff, or doctors hired by the insurance company to examine the plaintiff, can be questioned at a pretrial deposition. These doctors may be asked about any diagnosis or prognosis, about the type and cost of the treatment for the injury, and about any limitation or permanent injury suffered by the plaintiff.
- The plaintiff in a personal injury case will almost certainly have to submit to questioning at a pretrial deposition.
1) Not Seek Medical Treatment
Some injuries are not immediately apparent. Adrenaline from an accident can mask an injury that may only be apparent after time. Failing to seek medical treatment at the time of the accident can undermine your legal and insurance claims. Insurers may argue that a delay in treatment could signal the injury was not serious. As a best practice, it would be recommended that a physician conduct an examination following an accident.
2) Fail to Get An Accident Report
Without a police report, an accident claim would turn into he said versus she said. It is important to have a third party accident report prepared by law enforcement which will determine fault, liability, obtain contact information and describe the accident scene among other uses. Although there may be a delay in waiting for law enforcement to arrive at the scene of the accident, it will serve you well in the long run. Without an accident report there will be difficulty in corroborating statements, as a car accident lawyer Phoenix AZ relies on would explain.
3) Give a Statement to Insurance
Accidents are stressful. Being under stress impacts everything from your memory to your descriptions or other statements about an accident. This can impair the way in which an insurance company will later approve or deny your claim. There is a reason why insurance companies always ask for a statement as quickly as they can. If any insurance company requests a statement from you, you should not rush to provide it. You can instead simply state that you are not ready to provide a statement at this time and defer it to a later time. There is no rush.
4) Fail to Document Your Accident
After an accident it is important to photograph and note any relevant information. Pictures of damage to vehicles, pictures of the accident scene itself, notes and contact information for any witnesses: these are all vital details which may be lost if not properly documented. Cars can be moved, towed, destroyed, witnesses can leave the scene and this information would be lost. This information may be asked for later by your insurance company and it would be important to have it available.
5) Don’t Apologize
Your words matter! Any statements you make in an emotional state can be used against you when determining fault. Even something as basic as an apology can be construed against you. Apologies can quickly become admissions of liability and you need to be careful and mindful about what you say.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into what you should do after an accident.
Distracting driving continues to be a massive problem nationwide, causing thousands of injuries and fatalities in related accidents each year. With this troublesome trend in mind, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has christened April as “National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”
Distracted driving is more than just cell phone use. Any action that takes a person’s attention off of the road and his or her surroundings is considered distracted driving, according to the NHTSA. Many people drive distracted and do not even realize they are doing it because it doesn’t involve texting.
There are three types of distracted driving: visual, manual and cognitive.
In visual distracted driving, the driver takes his or her eyes off the road. This could entail glancing down at a radio or looking out of a side window instead of the windshield; it’s anything that takes the eyes away from the road ahead and the immediate surroundings. Manual distracted driving occurs when a person is taking her or his hands off of the wheel to do something else, such as change a radio station or eat food. In cognitive distracted driving, the driver’s mind is focused on something other than driving. Some actions can include more than one type of distracted driving at one time. Texting, for example, takes a person’s mind, eyes and hands away from driving. Eating or checking a GPS could also involve all three categories of driving while distracted.
The statistics paint a grim picture
Distracted driving is a problem that has gotten worse over the years, as technology has made its way firmly into society and more people have cell phones and other distracting devices. NHTSA reports that in 2015 alone, 391,000 people were injured and 3,477 people died because of crashes that involved distracted drivers. Studies estimate that around 660,000 drivers use their cell phones while on the road during the day, creating a deadly potential for more accidents, injuries and deaths related to this unsafe behavior.
NHTSA is leading the charge
The Administration is working to turn the dangerous trend of distracted driving around by increasing awareness of and education about the topic. Leading the way in its efforts is devoting an entire month to the problem. NHTSA partners with local and state law enforcement departments to run campaigns that reach drivers and get them to understand the risks and costs of distracted driving. Throughout April, the Administration combines its national ad campaign with a crackdown by local law enforcement across the country. This initiative is known as “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” It runs for around a week each April and aggressively targets cell phone use while driving. During this period, law enforcement officials aim to catch and ticket distracted drivers who are using their phones.
Despite having an entire awareness month of its own, distracted driving continues to contribute to crashes all around the US. If you have been injured because of a distracted driver, seek the advice of an experienced auto accident lawyer Denver CO relies on today to protect your rights.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into distracted driving awareness month.
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
This famous quotation from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, summarizes the main reason personal injury attorneys lose clients. Successful client communication can go a long way to help you retain existing clients as well as to grow your future client base. Following a few simple rules will best accomplish this:
- Be disciplined in keeping a set schedule to speak with your clients. Even if you don’t have anything monumental to report, touch base with them on a regular, set basis, even to just say “hi.”
- Schedule periodic in person meetings in your office. Take this opportunity to show the client the file and any new paperwork. Discuss the next steps and keep the client involved. Don’t rush these meetings, so be careful to schedule them when you have the time to spend.
- Be upfront and candid about any problems or setbacks in the case. Don’t let the client find out from someone else. Nowadays, with the advent of ecourts, elaw and other comparable public court resources, most court dockets are accessible online. Some clients keep track of their case progress from their own computer.
- Get to know your client. Take the opportunity to not only get updates about your client’s treatment, work status etc.… but ask about their family. What are your client’s interests? Hopefully we are in this business because we love what we do and take great pride in helping people. Try to listen more than you talk. This is a people business. Don’t lose sight of this.
- Always return client phone calls on the same day you receive them. If that is not possible, have a member of your office staff call the client and let them know you will return the call the following day. A short email to the client will be effective as well.
Yes, these sound like very basic and obvious things that you should be doing to keep your clients satisfied. However, it has been my experience that most attorneys who aren’t a car accident lawyer New York, NY relies on will still ignore the basics. Don’t ever give the client a reason to think that you are too busy for them. If you are too busy for your clients, you may want to find other work. Remember that in matters involving personal injury, you can bet that the case is the most important thing in the client’s life, so make sure you treat it that way.