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Trust fund question

Savannah, GA |

I was burned when I was a child and received a settlement for my injuries. I never saw a dime of my estate which I was told had to be around 300,000.00 for my injuries. What can I do?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. I assume you have already asked your parent or guardian about this and they have not given a satisfactory answer. If you know who was your guardian for the purpose of the lawsuit you can go to the records of the court where the case was brought and search under that name for the years in which the case was active to find the file number. Court records are kept forever. Court clerks or county clerks are usually very helpful in this regard. If you are lucky the cocurt will be computerized which will make it much easier to locate the file. Once you find the file number you can order the file and review it. It will contain information concerning the lawyers who were involved, and it will have a copy of the compromise order which will tell you the amount of the settlement and where the money went. You can do this yourself. Most counties also have court services or title companies which can find this information. Or, you can hire a local lawyer to do it for you for a few hundred dollars. If you don't know where the case was brought, it is going to be much harder to find the information. A good private investigation service could probably help you in such a case.

  2. I would start by investigating the settlement which occurred. I would start by speaking with your parent or guardian who negotiated the settlement. If this is not practical, your settlement had to be processed through the probate court in the county in which you resided or through a trial court. You can contact one of those courts to learn about the settlement and the proceeds. Likewise, you can contact the insurance company who paid the settlement. It is possible that your settlement was "structured." This means that it was setup so that the proceeds earned interest, but were not paid to you until after you reached a certain age. Structure settlements often do not make payments until persons are 25, 30 or older. This is a manner in which to protect the person against spending the proceeds. If you are not able to identify the funds on your own, I would retain an attorney who can investigate the situation on your behalf. He or she should be able to get to the bottom of what occurred very quickly. This can usually be done without filing a lawsuit, but that is always an option.

  3. The best and most practical people to discuss this with are your parents or guardians at the time of the incident and the attorney who represented you in the matter. Most likely, the settlement funds were used to purchase an annuity or some other type of structure that earns interest for you over time until you reach the age of majority (18 in Georgia). Once you are at least 18, you are eligible to receive payments from the structure. Or, if the funds were not structured and simply placed into a trust, you will have access to the trust. If your guardian or attorney are unavailable or unable to help, any settlements on behalf of a minor must be approved by the Court, typically the Probate Court in the county in which you lived at the time of the incident. Contact the Clerk of the Probate Court for assistance in obtaining the documents related to the Court's approval. You should contact an attorney in the county in which you were living at the time to give you more information about that county's Probate procedures.

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