Catalina is the nation’s trusted and respected structured settlement buyer.  Our team has helped people from across the country in getting a lump sum for future structured settlement payments.  Whether your structured settlement is paid monthly, annually or in lump sum and regardless whether the payments are guaranteed or life contingent, we can help you get the money you need when you need it.

The Nature of a Structured Settlement

Generally speaking, a person becomes entitled to a structured settlement in connection with the voluntary settlement personal injury, medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit but there are circumstances where as the result of inheritance or divorce they may be entitled to payments under a pre-existing structured settlement. A structured settlement is a powerful and secure asset and, in most cases, should not be touched in order to receive a lump sum.  While the liquidity of a structured settlement can pose certain issues, the security of its virtually guaranteed income stream makes it very desirable.

What Happens if You Need Access to Money and You have a Structured Settlement

On some occasions, a person may decide that the structured settlement that once seemed like a good idea is no longer serving their best interests.  This is a difficult decision to reach because inevitably if you sell a structured settlement you will receive less money than you would if you simply waited for the payments to come in. That is the cold, hard truth.  That said, there are times were a person with a structured settlement decides assigning the payments due under the annuity for a lump sum is the right decision and in their best interest.

How much you will receive when you sell some or all of your structured settlement depends on a host of factors including:

When are your payments due?

How much are the payments you are interested in selling?

What annuity issuer is making the payments to you?

Are the payments life contingent or guaranteed?

Did you shop your payments around and get multiple offers?

Current interest rates related to these type of transactions from ultimate assignees

These are just some of the factors but after speaking with a few companies you are more likely to get an idea what buyers on the secondary market will offer you for your structured settlement.  In some situations, but not all, the annuity company that is making the payments to you might be willing to buy some or all of the structured settlement payments.  These companies may or may not offer you more for your future payments than a company that buy structured settlement payments as its primary business.

Selling Your Structured Settlement is NOT an Overnight Process

Whether you are entitled to a structured settlement that will pay $1,000,000.00 or $10,000.00, there is a process that must be followed before you get a lump sum. This process is established by 26 USC 5891 and the relevant law of the state where you reside.  Every company that buys structured settlements must follow these rules without exception.

The rules importantly require that a Judge finds that selling a structured settlement or portion thereof for a lump sum is in your best interest.  But before you can even get to that, there a lot of hoops that the company that is buying your future annuity payments must jump through.

Below are four common stages:

  1. How to Go About Considering Getting Cash for Structured Settlement
  2. Documents You will Receive Related to the Sale
  3. The Court Process as it Relates to the Sale of Structured Settlement Payments
  4. The Big Day: The Hearing Where a Judge Decides

Summary of the History of Structured Settlements in the United States

At its most fundamental level, a structured settlement is a settlement of a lawsuit.  Typically a plaintiff in a personal injury or workers compensation case will settle his or her claim with an insurance carrier in exchange for the promise of the insurance carrier to pay to the claimant certain sums of money over a period of years.  In order to satisfy its promise, or obligation, a casualty insurer purchases from a life insurance company an annuity policy.  This annuity policy in turn pays out to the original claimant the money promised by the casualty insurer in the settlement of the lawsuit.

For example, John Doe is killed in an automobile accident.  Mr. Doe’s wife sues the driver of the car that hit and killed Mr. Doe.  In settlement of the action, the defendant’s insurance carrier, agrees to pay Mrs. Doe $2,500.00 for life with 360 of these payments guaranteed and after the 360 payment are made, $2,500.00 to Mrs. Doe for as long as she lives.  In addition, the defendant’s insurance carrier agrees to pay Mrs. Doe $100,000.00 every 5 years for the thirty years, guaranteed.

In this example, the casualty insurer purchases an annuity policy from a life insurance company.  The annuity policy names Mrs. Doe as the payee of the payments promised originally by the casualty insurer.  Mrs. Doe ends up with a structured settlement annuity being paid to her by the life insurance company and guaranteed by the casualty insurer.

Structured settlements were first utilized in Canada and the United States during the 1970’s and are now part of the statutory tort law of several common law countries including Australia, Canada, England and the United States.  Although some uniformity exists, each of these countries has its own definitions, rules and standards for structured settlements.  In the United States, 26 USC §§ 104a, 130, and 5891 govern the tax treatment of structured settlements and the assignment of theses payment obligations to third parties.  In the United States, it is currently estimated that more than $6 billion per year of new structured settlement annuity policies are written each year.  Many of these settlements are created by insurance companies “in house” by using their own P&C sister company.  Over the last 5 years, 14 companies have accounted for over 80% of the market.  Of the approximately 600 producers nationwide, most write these annuities using one of the 14 major insurance companies.

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