Grasping Settlement Planning: Our Comprehensive Guide to Maximizing Your Financial Future

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Understanding Settlement Planning

Settlement planning is a comprehensive strategy to manage funds from a legal settlement or award customized to meet the client’s objectives. It's designed to ensure long-term financial stability through wealth management and asset preservation. By forming customized strategies that cater to an individual's unique circumstances, settlement planning provides peace of mind and a sense of security for the future.

The crucial components of settlement planning include financial analysis, government benefit analysis, legal coordination, expert guidance, and ongoing support throughout the process. Each of these factors work together to best serve the individual and ensure effective wealth management and a high quality of life, while avoiding pitfalls such as loss of essential government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid.

Strategic Importance

Plaintiff’s Perspective

Settlement planning is paramount for plaintiffs as it provides a clear roadmap for managing their newfound financial resources and avoiding the loss of any government benefits. Through expert legal and financial guidance, plaintiffs are empowered to make informed decisions about their future. Settlement planning empowers plaintiffs by giving them the tools to navigate through complex legal and financial decisions effectively. 

Attorney’s Role

Settlement planning attorneys guide clients through the legal and financial aspects involved in managing a substantial sum of money while preserving eligibility for essential benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. They often collaborate with other professionals like financial advisors, tax advisors, trust companies, and case managers, to create a comprehensive plan aligned with the client's goals. Through their expertise, they protect clients from potential pitfalls associated with large settlements, such as tax consequences, mismanagement of funds, and loss of public benefits. 

Not only does a settlement planning attorney protect injured parties, or claimants, from significant financial loss, but they also protect litigation firms from liability if they neglect to effectively advise their client as to the settlement’s impact on their tax liability and public benefit eligibility prior to their client receiving settlement proceeds. 

An attorney with particular expertise in settlement planning can also provide advice on sophisticated planning tools such as a Qualified Settlement Fund or Plaintiff Recovery Trust in addition to designing a settlement plan for complex matters involving many parties as in mass torts and class actions.

Asset Preservation & Long-Term Security

Asset preservation is essential to safeguard funds from unnecessary depletion or loss. Settlement planning attorneys use various strategies like trusts, annuities, and insurance to protect assets for future needs. By preserving assets, we ensure that the funds are available when required the most.

For instance, setting up a trust can help shield a portion of the settlement funds from immediate access while ensuring they remain intact for specific future purposes. Annuities provide a steady income stream over time, offering protection against overspending or financial mismanagement. Insurance products such as life insurance or long-term care coverage can further secure the resources for unforeseen circumstances, especially if the injured party requires lifetime care.

By focusing on asset preservation, we maintain financial stability and security for the long term. This approach enables us to meet our future needs without worrying about resource depletion due to imprudent spending or market fluctuations.

Services Offered

Comprehensive Planning

Comprehensive planning involves a detailed analysis of the individual's circumstances — such as healthcare needs, education expenses, housing, transportation, caregiving, travel, and entertainment — to create a holistic plan. For example, if a client requires specific home modifications due to injury, we ensure that these needs are factored into planning. By addressing financial, legal, and personal goals comprehensively, settlement funds are utilized effectively to enhance overall quality of life. 

Maximizing Settlement Funds

Financial analysis is crucial in determining an individual's current and future financial needs. Working alongside Certified Financial Planners helps us assess income requirements, budget considerations, and future expenses to develop realistic plans that align with each client's unique circumstances.

This involves strategic approaches to ensure optimal utilization of funds. We partner with financial advisors to carefully consider investment diversification, tax-efficient strategies, and asset allocation techniques. For example, we employ tax-efficient strategies to minimize tax liabilities on income generated from the settlement. By strategically planning, we aim to maximize the potential growth and longevity of settlement funds.

Settlement Planner vs. Settlement Planning Attorney

Often, there is a misunderstanding in the difference between a settlement planner and an attorney who does settlement planning. A settlement planner – also referred to as a structured settlement broker – assists injured parties in selecting a particular financial product, usually a structured settlement annuity. A settlement planning attorney is a lawyer who has no financial interest in the outcome of the settlement plan but has specific expertise in the process and can lead a team of other experts. 

Structured settlement brokers must be licensed to sell insurance to sell structured settlement annuity products. This type of annuity is an insurance product that must be purchased by a defendant for the benefit of a plaintiff. The annuity payment stream is customized, and there is a guaranteed interest rate, or internal rate of return, and the entire payment is not taxable income to the payee. Brokers often work exclusively with either plaintiffs or defendants, and will outline the financial and tax advantages to the plaintiff when the defendant purchases these products on their behalf. However, there are downsides to these products as well.

The settlement planner is typically not a practicing lawyer. If they only hold an insurance license, they have no fiduciary duty to the client, meaning they have no obligation to act in the client’s best interests. Proposals may not disclose the internal rate of return of the funds or the broker's commission. The annuity payments are static and cannot be modified even if the client’s circumstances change. Without the added protection of a trust, clients can be subjected to aggressive marketing to sell their annuity payments for pennies on the dollar.

By contrast, a settlement planning attorney has no financial interest in the outcome of the settlement plan. If they do, they have a duty to disclose this to the client and put their license to practice law at risk if they fail to do so. A highly experienced settlement planning attorney usually has a probate and estate planning background. Some attorneys specialize even further to focus on planning for persons with disabilities, working with catastrophically injured individuals, and more complex litigation. These attorneys help lead a team of experts to craft an individualized holistic plan that is as flexible as possible with administrative checks and balances. They also oversee integrating other experts, such as structured settlement brokers, certified financial planners, case managers, tax experts, benefits coordinators, life care planners, lien resolution experts, trustees, and other professionals, to bring together additional resources for an injured party’s life after settlement that helps the funds last as long as possible while preserving government benefit eligibility.

Ongoing Support

Settlement planning isn't a one-time task. It's an ongoing process requiring continuous monitoring and adjustments over time. Ongoing support from trust administrators ensures that our plan remains relevant as personal and legal circumstances change. Regular reviews allow us to make necessary modifications and maintain our long-term financial security. 


Settlement planning is not just about money. It is about shaping your future. With proper planning, we can make informed choices that align with our long-term goals. Seeking the guidance of a settlement planning attorney ensures that funds are used wisely for our well-being and future, particularly for persons who have catastrophic injuries or those who also depend on government benefits to meet their basic needs.

Settlement planning provides support during these critical decision-making processes. We don't have to navigate this alone. Settlement planning teams are there to aid in these life-changing decisions. They offer expertise and advice on managing funds responsibly and making choices that will positively impact our lives in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is settlement planning?

Settlement planning involves creating a comprehensive legal and financial plan for individuals who have received or are expecting to receive a large sum of money, often from a litigation settlement. It aims to create a legal framework with checks and balances that maximizes the longevity of the funds, coordinates the funds with government benefits, and enhances the person’s quality of life. 

Why is settlement planning important?

Settlement planning helps individuals make informed decisions about their finances, protect their assets, and secure their future. It takes into account various factors such as taxation, government benefits, healthcare needs, and family dynamics to create a tailored plan.

What services are typically offered in settlement planning?

Services may include legal analysis, financial analysis, investment management, tax planning, estate planning, special needs trust establishment, life care planning, public benefit preservation and coordination strategies, and guidance on structured settlements. These services are designed to address the unique financial challenges that come with receiving a substantial sum of money.

How does hiring a settlement planner impact one's financial future?

Hiring an experienced settlement planning attorney can significantly impact one's financial future by providing personalized guidance in managing and preserving the funds received from a legal settlement. 

How does settlement protection work in the context of settlement planning?

Settlement protection involves implementing measures such as trusts to safeguard the funds received from legal settlements against potential risks like unforeseen expenses or public benefits loss. This ensures that the individual continues to benefit from their award over time.

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