When is the right time to bring in a settlement planner? This is a common question from attorneys. They call us to ask when they should get us involved in a case.
Our answer is always the same: the earlier, the better. The earlier we can get involved in a case, the more time we’re going to have to get to know that client. We can determine which government benefits the client and their household are receiving — and we can come up with a plan to protect at-risk benefits (Medicaid, SSI, etc.)
Early in the case, we can start working with you on some of the lien resolution issues. If there’s an ERISA lien, a Medicaid lien, a Medicare set-aside account that needs to be set up, or other health plan liens, we can help you start to negotiate early in the process. That way, you and your client aren’t stuck waiting at the end of the case for liens to be resolved.
In other words, getting a settlement planner involved early in the case life cycle will save you a lot of time and get you paid a lot quicker than if you wait to get us involved at the very last minute.
In addition, the earlier we can meet with a client to discuss their settlement planning options, the more likely they are to become comfortable with creating a sensible plan for the settlement proceeds (as opposed to the typical plan of purchasing a Ford F-150).
When clients have the expectation that their case is going to settle soon, they often envision receiving a lump sum of cash at mediation or right after the case closes. However, it’s hard to overcome these expectations if we’re brought int too late in the case.
By meeting the client early on, we can set realistic expectations and introduce the idea of creating a financial plan, exploring a trust-based solution or structured settlement annuity, etc.
We’ve found that coming up with a plan for the settlement funds early in the case brings great peace of mind to clients. They know that they have someone in their corner who will help them navigate their government benefits situation, manage their money or provide guidance on their investments, and help them transition from their pre-settlement to post-settlement life.