You decided on a company, picked what payments you wanted to sell, accepted an offer for a lump sum, and after receiving Notice of the Hearing, the day is arrived for you to go to court. Lets be clear upfront- its okay to be nervous- nearly everyone is. Many people don’t like speaking in public or discussing their finances with strangers but by its very nature selling a structured settlement will require a little of both. Here is just a brief summary of what to do and what to expect:
Dress NicelyYou will be in court and appearing for a Judge to explain why you are interested in getting a lump sum for your structured settlement. Dressing appropriately may help the first impression that Judge gets of you.
Arrive EarlyIts always a good idea to get to court 30 minutes or so before the time you are required to be there. There are many reasons for this including:
a. There could be a line to get into the courthouse
b. You may have difficulty finding the courtroom once in courthouse.
c. Courtrooms sometimes change and so it is good to get there early to make sure the Hearing is taking place in the same place that is identified on your Notice.
d. The attorney that is representing the company making the offer to pay you cash for your structured settlement may want to meet you in advance of hearing.
Attorney at HearingIt is important to know that unless you have hired your own attorney and arranged for him or her to be there, the attorney at the hearing represents the company purchasing your payments, NOT YOU. An attorney can not represent both you and the company. You always have the choice to retain your own attorney to represent you at the hearing.
Courtroom EtiquetteThere will likely be multiple hearings schedule for the same time as yours. Often times the Judge will call the cases from older to newer but sometimes they will ask the attorneys how long each matter scheduled will take, and call the shorter matters first. In any event, once in courtroom you should make sure to shut off your cell phone and to limit the amount you talk.
Case NumbersEither the clerk or the Judge will start a hearing on a particular case by calling out the Case Number and the parties involved. It is a good idea to know your case number when you get into the courtroom so you can identify it when it is called out. Do not worry though: the court will usually also ask what parties are present and call out the specific names. For these reasons it is important to pay attention to hear either your name or case number.
The HearingHearings related to the sale of structured settlements can last anywhere between minutes and hours- depending on a host of factors, including the Judge involved in hearing the case. Because you will not know in advance how long the Judge will take to hear the case or in what order your case will be called, it is critical that you do not schedule any other activities that day. Last think you want is to wait weeks if not months for the Hearing and then have to leave before your case is called. First, the Judge will likely not look kindly on you leaving early and second, the Judge may either dismiss your case or reschedule for a long time out.
As for what happens at the Hearing, it is not easy to summarize but as part of your preparation you want to at a minimum:
- Know what you are selling
- Know how much you are getting paid.
- Be prepared to explain to the Judge why the transaction is in your best interest.
The Judge said “Yes, and approved the transaction”. What Next
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