How best to handle an auto accident settlement for a minor?

My minor child was in an auto accident and is receiving a settlement in excess of $10,000. I was told that state law requires that we go through a probate judge because of the amount. I’m assuming this means the money will be placed in a trust. Will I have access to the money to pay the outstanding medical bills and to reimburse myself for my out-of-pocket expenses? I was told by the insurance company that they cannot pay the medical bills directly before issuing the settlement. Additionally, can I choose the type of trust that is set up or will my child automatically have access to the money at age 18? I would prefer the age of access to be higher to allow for more maturity and responsibility when handling such a large sum of money.

Asked on June 13, 2012 under Accident Law, South Carolina

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you do not have a personal injury attorney representing your child in the matter you are writing about, you should. Ordinarily there will be a petition by the attorney representing the defendant who is paying the settlement for the minor called a "minor's compromise".

The court assuming it approved the petition and settlement orders all bills owed to be paid from the settlement by the child's guardian and the balance placed in a blocked account bearing interest.

The money is usually ordered to be released to the minor when he or she turns 18. The guardian can choose where the settlement money will be deposited.

The guardian can pay medical bills and then be reimbursed for the payment per a court order out of the settlement.


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