Trial Attorney

You are completely focused on winning your case, often dealing with awful situations and highly emotional family members.  You are busy, and don’t have time to deal with what happens after you win your suit, but you face it at some point even if it is the 11th hour.  We can help you to structure a solution where your clients are best served through a trust or a guardianship, and the money you win them will be protected for the benefit of the injured party.

Q:

What value can you add to me and my client?

A:

We can be a vital partner to help you keep your client through this very difficult process.   Here is what we can offer:

  • Clarity to your clients’ confusion.  Most of your clients may havenever dealt with such a tragedy, never met a trial attorney, confusion around the court process, and limited awareness of special needs trusts or guardianships.  This area is our specialty and we can explain the process and most preferable outcome to your client, thus enhancing their confidence in you.
  • Encouragement for your clients to stick with the process of litigation.  The family or client could be unstable and even threaten the outcome of your good work.  We can provide encouragement to the family as we have experience in the positive outcomes that arrive at the conclusion of hard fought cases.  We can talk them through the benefits of your work, and validate the path that they must walk to see the rewards of your work.
  • An explanation to your clients what will happen to their money once you win the case.  You might have heard your clients say things like, “It’s my money and I won’t continue with the lawsuit for my injured child unless I am assured of full access to the funds”.  The worthy parent has endured so much that they feel entitled to the settlement / litigation proceeds.  We will come alongside you and clearly describe how we undertake our duties as a court supervised trustee of a special needs trust or similar vehicle.  We assure your clients that we are team players and involve the family in caregiving and decision making.  This works well to cement long term relationships.

  • Assist with the technical and financial analysis of a structured settlement and provide a cost/benefit analysis.   This will obviously provide vital information to you if you enter settlement negotiations.

  • Advice and counsel to the attorney drafting the special needs trust.  We have been brought in as special needs trustee by the most highly recommended special needs trust and estate planning attorneys in the state.  Our role is often as advisor and counsel regarding the implications of language and standard clauses.

Q:

Why should I consider using a trust rather than a structured settlement?

A:
  1. Structured settlements often offer lower returns on investments than the market rate.  While structured settlements offer guaranteed returns, this is normally well below market rate returns and often hovers around 4%.
  2. Structures are not cost free.  It is often implied that structured settlements are the cheaper option for the client, but there is normally a 4% commission for a structure and high internal management costs.
  3. While the payment of a structured settlement is tax free, tax is usually not materially important to an injured person.  Usually tax is not a problem as the beneficiaries have high deductibles for medical costs.  Additionally the beneficiary is often in low tax brackets.  Also, a trust can invest in tax free bonds.
  4. Structured payments don’t always match the needs of the injured person.  Yes, the structured payments will last a lifetime, but the problem is that a child with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has huge needs early in life.  It is necessary to have trust liquidity to pay for medical costs, therapies, schooling, special housing, etc.  We often see settlement proposals with high periodic lump sum payouts at certain ages, but the greatest needs are in the first years after the injury, not later in life.
  5. Structured settlements are inflexible.  An annuity is a fixed income asset and the asset mix cannot be changed during their lifetime.  At some point in the beneficiary's life this may represent too heavy a weighting on fixed income when a growth component in the investment portfolio is a much more prudent investment.  For example, if the beneficiary buys a house and also has a structured settlement, then a majority of their assets would be fixed, rather than balancing their portfolio with a growth component.  Trusts are much more flexible, adapting to the changing needs of a beneficiary since asset diversification is set at inception but can be reallocated over time as needed.
  6. Professional management of funds is not limited to insurance companies.  The insurance company will list professional management as a major reason for a structured settlement.  We have over 25 years of trust investment management experience ourselves and we partner with management firms with vast amounts of expertise in this area as well.
Q:

Will you manage a trust that has a structured settlement?

A:

Yes.  We often take special needs trusts with structured settlements and make them work for the beneficiary.

Q:

Why should I consider using Northwest Trustee & Management Services for my client's Special Needs Trust?

A:
  • We are a local firm that can work with you to provide expert advice on Special Needs Trusts during the trial.
  • We have extensive experience providing specialized services to give your clients the best possible quality of life with the funds that you win.  These have included clients injured by medical malpractice, auto accidents, and personal injuries often resulting in TBI.
  • We report to superior courts across the state and our fees are routinely deemed reasonable.  Upon request we will provide you our published fee schedule.
Q:

What is the process for engaging Northwest Trustee & Management Services?

A:
  • Contact us with your case
  • We will meet you to discuss the case
  • We will meet with the injured party or family/guardian to assess the situation
  • We will communicate with the attorney drafting the special needs trust and advise him or her on trust related issues
Q:

Do you have a minimum size trust that you will accept?

A:

Due to the complexities and time intensity of these trusts, our minimum size is $500,000.