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January 5, 2017
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February 22, 2017
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NFL Concussion Update

For almost five years, the NFL concussion settlement has been pending due to tense negotiations and court appeals.   Finally, the end is in sight. In December 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it would not hear two petitions objecting to the settlement.(1) This denial will allow the settlement to finally move forward to begin payouts to over 20,000 retired NFL players. In the settlement, the NFL agreed to pay out $1 Billion over 65 years. The payments will range from $190,000 to approximately $5,000,000 depending on the type of injury sustained by the former player and other factors.

Earlier this month, a U.S. District Judge urged retired NFL players to register for the settlement and obtain medical testing. The deadline for a player to register is August 8, 2017.(2) Other important dates and information can be found on the official NFL concussion website.

So why are we discussing the NFL settlement? Attorneys and retired players all over the country are involved in this settlement and because of the type of physical injuries the players sustained, they all qualify for tax-free structured settlements. Further, the attorneys, who are expected to receive $112.5 million of the settlement can elect to structure their fees to defer taxation.(3)

How You & AVITAS Can Get Involved 


You may think, “well, these guys are set–they were NFL players, made a lot of money and don’t need financial planning, let alone a structured settlement.” This is simply not the case. In ESPN’s 30 for 30 series titled “Broke” director Billy Corben highlighted the fact that many players end up penniless.(4)   They need our combined services and assistance. 

ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Broke”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Elfw0ESih-A

 

For The NFL Player/Claimant

Millennium’s AVITAS team can offer expert assistance to attorneys and their clients that have suffered the effects of degenerative brain disease for any type of settlement. If an NFL player or claimant accepted an award as part cash and part periodic payments (structured settlement), the NFL player/claimant could receive tax-free payments over his lifetime. If, in the above example, an NFL player accepted the award as part cash ($305,000 for cash and attorney’s fees) and part periodic payments using a premium amount of $250,000.00, the NFL player could receive projected benefits over his life totaling $577,300.00 over his life-thereby stretching the settlement award in a way that best suits the player’s future needs. Granted, it is a modest return of 3.07%; however, it is completely tax free, guaranteed payments for 15 years but continuing for as long as he lives, unlike other investments. Additionally, we can offer fixed-index annuities that provide a guarantee plus upside market participation, as well as a market-based program, Settlements PlusTM , where the funds can be managed by a financial advisor completely tax-free in physical injury cases (tax-deferred in non-physical injury cases).

Since degenerative brain disease is a complex diagnosis, each claimant will have very specific needs. Some may not have any noticeable symptoms while others may have life-time symptoms and issues that may require a Special Needs Trust or a Medicare Set-Aside. Whatever the level of injury, our team has the expertise to help navigate attorneys and the needs of their clients through the multifaceted issues of the financial portion of their settlement.

For the Attorneys

For the attorneys who want to defer their fees and taxes to future years, there are many solutions now available: traditional structured settlement annuity, Fee Structure Plus (market-based program where your own financial advisor can manage the money), and the Treasury Funded Structured Settlement.

Key Reasons to Structure Attorney Fees Include:

  • It is a pre-tax investment.
  • Deferring compensation over time could lead to less income being lost to taxes.
  • Application of Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) can potentially be avoided.
  • Gives you custom cash flow management and allows you to tailor your own income stream.
  • Structured fees have enhanced protection from creditors, judgments and divorce decrees.

Attorneys can structure fees on any case taken on contingency, whether their client structures his/her settlement or not. Attorneys who do not earn guaranteed, fixed income should consider legal fee structures given the tax deferral benefits and financial planning incentives that are readily available.

Additionally, now that the NFL settlement is moving into disbursement mode, our corporate office has been fielding a fair amount of calls from attorneys who are interested in setting up sub-QSFs for their inventories of cases since the Master QSF for the global settlement does not really have enough flexibility to facilitate all of these things.   A sub-QSF can be established for a given firm and acts as their own Qualified Settlement Fund that can receive monies from the Master QSF but still avoid constructive receipt for the attorney’s fees and claimant monies.

 

Key Reasons for Using Sub-QSFs:

  • Retain flexibility for financial planning, structured annuities for the attorney’s inventory of cases
    • A high percentage of former NFL players in the litigation are choosing to use structured settlements because of their familiarity and comfort with guaranteed monthly income (e.g. the NFL pension)
  • Maintain ability to disburse a desired percentage of funds to the law firm and to clients who may need funds immediately while preserving the tax benefits to other clients
  • Allow for “holdbacks” of funds for those clients who may want access to some of their money but want the balance to go into a structured annuity, etc.

 

Sources

  1. http://www.si.com/nfl/2016/12/12/supreme-court-nfl-concussion-settlement-retired-players 
  2. http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/federal_judge_urges_retired_nfl_players_to_sign_up_for_concussion_settlemen 
  3. https://www.nflconcussionsettlement.com/ImportantDates.aspx
  4. http://www.espn.com/30for30/film?page=broke

 

Contact your AVITAS Representative for more information about the NFL Settlement and visit http://www.concussionsettlements.com/.

 

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