2017 BOOKS AND RESOUE GUIDES


2017 SOFTWARE


Structured Settlements - What Are They?

By Daniel Reisinger 

What is a Structured Settlement Annuity?

A Structured Settlement Annuity (SSA) is a contract issued by an insurance company that originated from a legal action such as a car accident, workplace accident, wrongful death, medical malpractice, etc. The original claimant (plaintiff) elected to accept a series of payments instead of a lump sum settlement. This series of payments are guaranteed by an US based insurance company and is in the form of a fixed annuity.

In about 20% of the cases the claimants (or their heirs) elect to sell their SSAs (in full or part) in exchange for a discounted lump sum of cash today.

What is the process when a Claimant decides to sell their SSA?

Claimants that are considering selling their SSAs seek out factoring companies which are institutions that buy SSAs. Claimants are looking to get the largest lump sum of cash today in exchange for the rights that they give up to receive those future payments.

This process must go through the court system which protects both the claimant and the factoring company in the selling of the SSA. Once the agreement is made and approved by the courts the factoring company pays the original claimant the agreed upon amount in a lump sum and the claimant signs off on all rights to receive those future payments.

When a factoring company buys a SSA from a claimant they then offer to sell those court ordered rights to recoup the funds that they paid out. Some factoring companies package the SSAs and sell them on Wall Street or to large institutional investors and pension plans. Some factoring companies sell them to individual investors through a network of brokers as a Safe Money alternative which are good choices for both IRA funds and non-IRA funds.

The payment streams can be either ongoing monthly payments for a set period of time or can come in the form of a deferred lump sum.

The safety rests in the insurance company that is backing the payment stream. In addition, in most states there are State Guarantee Associations which back the principal of these annuities up to a certain amount. These are fixed annuities and as such they are afforded this protection.

The court process is designed to protect all parties. The court sends a letter to the underlining insurance company notifying them that their policy-owner (the claimant) has sold the rights to their contract to the new owner. Once the insurance company responds and accepts (Acceptance Letter) that transfer of ownership the security to the new purchaser is complete.

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Does Bankruptcy Discharge Tax Debt?

By W. George Senft

It's no secret that being in debt is one of the most stressful life events one can experience. But for most types of debts, there are solutions. Many creditors, such as credit card companies and medical facilities, will be glad to set up payment plans for you to ensure your debt is taken care of. Some hospitals even have funding available for those who cannot pay their medical bills. You may also be able to discharge unsecured debts through bankruptcy. However, when it comes to tax debts, the federal government can be a little more difficult to work, and tax debts are not dis chargeable through bankruptcy. There are always exceptions, and a Bankruptcy Attorney can help you work with the government to take care of your tax debts.

How are Tax Debts Handled?

While you may not be able to discharge tax debts through a Chapter 13, the amount you owe will be taken into consideration as we design your repayment plan. You may be able to discharge back taxes when you file a Chapter 7, but only if you meet these five criteria:

1. In general, only income taxes may (or may not) be included in a bankruptcy; all other types of taxes are generally excluded.

2. You may not include your tax debt if you've committed tax fraud or intentionally evaded paying taxes. In these situations, you'll also be facing other legal consequences as well.

3. Your tax debt must be at least three years old as of your bankruptcy filing date.

4. You need to have filed a tax return for the year that you owe taxes at least two years prior to filing bankruptcy.

5. You'll need to meet the "240-day rule," which means the taxes either need to be not yet assessed or have been assessed at least 240 days before filing bankruptcy.

If you fall far enough behind on your taxes, the IRS may issue a tax lien against your property. In these situations, you may be able to include the taxes in your bankruptcy, but this would not apply to your lien. You'll still owe the lien amount, but the IRS cannot garnish your wages or take control of your bank accounts to collect the debt. To take care of the lien, you may need to sell your property and pay back the debt, negotiate a payment plan, or even negotiate a settlement for a lower lump sum. This can be tedious and stressful, but may be worth the effort on your part.

Professional Guidance

If you've received notifications from the government, especially related to tax debt and liens, it's important to act quickly. It can be intimidating to deal with government agencies, especially when money is involved. A Bankruptcy Attorney can offer professional advice so that you can confidently move forward and take control of your situation.

W. George Senft is a Portland bankruptcy attorney that specializes in the practice of bankruptcy and family law related issues.



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