Keep Your Structured Settlement Paperwork Safe
Are you ready if disaster strikes? It’s not just a hypothetical question after a record year of natural disasters in the US — from a billion-dollar blizzard in the East to raging wildfires in the West.
The lesson here is that there’s no way to predict when or where a disaster – natural or manmade – will occur. What you can do is make yourself ready for whatever comes. Start by making a plan to protect the lives of yourself and loved ones – and then make sure your plan includes safeguarding important family papers such as your structured settlement documentation.
It is this paperwork that provides the proof of your annuity payments from a structured settlement. Problems that can result in a stoppage in payments will not be resolved unless there is proof that an agreement exists.
For most transactions, there are two documents that need to be kept safe.
- The settlement agreement, which has the effective date, the terms and conditions of the agreement, and the names and signatures of all of the parties included.
- The annuity contract, which confirms the amount and period of monthly payments received; it is a form of contract that guarantees the financial reward.
First, always have a designated location for such documents. Second, this place must be safe, where there is no chance of the paperwork getting lost, thrown out – or destroyed. You may want to consider a fireproof safe, safety deposit box, or perhaps a portable container that can resist water and fire.
Why is it important to keep these documents safe? Each agreement outlines your rights, in addition to the amount of cash to be received. Also defined are who the payee is and who is providing the funds, and the beneficiary. The funds, or annuities, described in the annuity contract are laid out, with rules regarding timeframes, penalties for non-payment, and conditions which would lead to a cessation of payment.
When you get these documents, always be sure that the policy number, all payment dates and exact amounts, the name of the person or organization issuing the policy, and details on the insurer are clearly written out. If the settlement money is tax free, then this needs to be explicitly indicated.
Documentation of your structured settlement annuity can be required under many circumstances – such as the aftermath of a disaster. Or you may someday endure financial hardship and find that a lump sum payment is the only thing that will help. Selling structured settlements also requires all of the original paperwork to prove ownership and assess the conditions in which you can take a lump sum for the sale of your payments.
In any case, you always want to have proof of the settlement; it’s for your own financial security.