How to Establish A Structured Settlement - Plaintiff's Attorney
- Inform your client
Few claimants -if any - know they qualify for special tax treatment at settlement. If the defense hasn't raised this option already, make sure you do.
More and more attorneys believe that advising their client of significant tax implications at settlement is not only the right thing to do, but ethically mandated under the rules of professional conduct.
Whether you believe they will be interested or not, be certain you meet this requirement by informing your client and documenting your file that you have done so*.
- Retain a professional
Some attorneys feel uncomfortable discussing tax or financial matters with clients, believing that offering anything but legal advice is strictly off limits. Fair enough. If you do not feel qualified to inform clients even generally about the existence of available tax benefits, the proper thing to do is refer them to a qualified settlement professional who can.
Arranging for your client to meet with a professional should be considered a "best practice". Not only do you satisfy the duty to inform and steer clear of any confusion over what kind of advice you provided, but hiring a professional is a better use of your time and will lead to better results.
Settlement professionals can explain the tax implications and available settlement options, answer questions, and custom design actual plans to suit your client's needs.
- Inform the defense
While timing can sometimes be a tactical issue, sooner or later the defense needs to know of your intent to structure. In most cases, the defense is a party to the transaction and must coordinate funding and documentation. Your settlement professional will be your best source of support on these tactical and transactional issues.
- Who to call
If you have not yet established a working relationship with a settlement broker, we would welcome the opportunity to serve you. We are available by both email and telephone if you have general questions or a current case you wish to discuss.
*Given the economic value at stake, if your client waives the tax break altogether, we recommend execution of a "Grillo Waiver".