A personal injury settlement is a lump sum or multiple payments given to a plaintiff by the defendant in exchange for dropping their lawsuit. Usually, the plaintiff in a personal injury case is an adult who was hurt in an accident they didn’t cause. Unfortunately, the plaintiff can be a minor hurt in an accident caused by someone else. When a personal injury attorney greenville sc secures a settlement on behalf of their minor plaintiff, it is the parent who controls the settlement. This can cause anxiety for parents who are worried something will happen to the settlement prior to their child turn 18 years old.
South Carolina Has Two Options to Protect a Child’s Personal Injury Settlement
In South Carolina, parents have two options to protect their child’s personal injury settlement: conservatorship and structured settlement. With a conservatorship, a conservator is appointed to oversee the child’s settlement. This is done in Probate Court. The settlement is placed in an interest-bearing bank account. The conservator isn’t allowed to use the money unless they have court approval.
If qualified, a parent can become the conservator. However, being a conservator is a lot of work. The conservator must obtain an insurance policy called a probate bond. This policy pays the child if their conservator steals or mismanages their settlement. A conservator must also file an annual report with the Probate Court. This report is a detailed listing of where the money is and how any money was spent. When the child turns 18 years old, they are in control of their settlement, not the conservator.
A structured settlement is the second option. The settlement is placed into an annuity. An annuity is basically an insurance policy designed to pay the amount of the settlement plus any interest. The reason it is called a structured settlement is that the child won’t receive a lump sum payment. Instead, they receive a payment depending on the parent’s decision. This means the parent decides how much money their child receives and when they receive it.
For instance, parents can decide if their child receives a payment once a year or every quarter. They can also decide what age they receive payments. They can choose anywhere from 18 to 25 years old or later. A structured settlement often gives parents more peace of mind knowing they have control of the settlement and when the receives it.
The Option to Protect a Child’s Settlement Depends on the Amount
If a child receives a settlement less than $10,000, a conservator may not be a viable option. However, a structured settlement is a good option to protect their settlement. If a child’s personal injury settlement ranges from $10,000 to $24,999, both options are good options to protect the settlement. If the settlement is more than $25,000, it is important to pick either the conservatorship or structured settlement depending on what offers to best protection of the funds.