How do structured settlements work regarding minors?

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How do structured settlements work regarding minors?

2 of our daughters were molested by a family member. We are at the end of our suit against the defendant and know that because they are minors, the money will be in the form of a structured settlement. However, does this type settlement provide for an allowance to help the girls with basic needs? Even though we agree that the majority of the settlement be put away for their future needs, we feel equally passionate about the fact that they should not “struggle” during their childhoods either.

Asked on August 13, 2011 Florida

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You are under a great deal of stress but do not confuse their age of minority with what is required under the law. If, in your state, the money must be placed in a trust account until they reach the age of majority, there may be very little you can do about it. All settlements for minors must go through the court system and for minors the court has very strict standards, especially in Florida. The court wants to ensure the money is actually set aside for the benefit of the children, not to be used for other purposes. If there are direct medical expenses actually charged to your children (like hospital bills or psychiatrist bills) not covered by insurance, then you may be able to have the court order that some portion of those money should go directly to the hospital or doctor. It doesn't need to be a structured settlement (the defendant could pay it all at once if he could or so chooses) but either way, your children will not be able to touch a majority of that money until they are 18 at least. This is not about struggling because ultimately there is no direct economic harm to them; it would be different for example if the children were working and could no longer work as a result of the molestation and therefore needed some portion of those monies as a replacement income. Think about these factors and decide if you wish or if your children wish to petition the court for some amount to be taken out on a monthly or quarterly basis simply for the children to enjoy. Be prepared if the court refuses to order it due to lack of safeguards in place to truly ensure the children actually get those monies.


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