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A structured settlement involves cash payments on a regular schedule from one party to another as a result of a legal judgment or binding arbitration (or even a simple agreement between the two parties to avoid a legal confrontation). For many recipients, the lure of a big lump sum of structured settlement cash in their hands right away is overwhelming.
Enter structured settlement cash companies. They offer to buy structured settlements in return for one big payout to the recipient of the settlement. They make their money, of course, by offering only a percentage of the total settlement amount in return for giving the recipient a bundle of cash at one time. This happens all the time, although some critics believe it is borderline illegal, or at the very least distasteful.
If you’re in this situation and you decide to pursue a lump sum alternative, do your homework! Investigate the structured settlement cash company’s history thoroughly. Check with the Better Business Bureau, search the Internet, and by all means, hire a competent attorney. There are some tricky legal issues at play in these cases, and you don’t want to have problems later on with the law or the structured settlement cash broker with whom you’ve made these arrangements.
It’s smart to take some time after you learn that you’ll be getting structured settlement cash to get over the emotional high and return to more rational thinking. There is much to recommend keeping the structured settlement as is – that is, taking regular payments over time instead of selling the settlement for fast cash. One advantage is the tax shelter an annuity provides. You can set it up, with the help of a skilled attorney, so that it provides you with payments that are tax-free.
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However, often there are high fees associated with the management of an annuity. While the fees seldom come close to equalling the tax advantages, some people simply prefer a large lump sum in hand. Reasons include wanting to make a big purchase they’ve been putting off, such as a new home, or to pay down delinquent taxes or medical bills.
If you choose to sell your structured settlement cash award for a lump sum payout, it’s vitally important to hire a lawyer. Don’t let the $ signs in your eyes overrule the reasoning part of your brain. Slick companies have been known to settle with some folks for as little as one-third of the total amount of the structured settlement cash award! Those companies rely on a significant number of people who jump before thinking it through. This is why an attorney is so crucial. He or she can help keep you in the right frame of mind.
Other reasons to enlist the aid of a trained structured cash settlement lawyer include dealing with certain legal restrictions, tax implications, and related obstacles. It varies from state to state, so be careful. Whatever you decide to do with your structured settlement cash, arming yourself with the correct information for your situation is the key.
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