This is part 3 in our series on settlements involving injured children.
In Part 1, we explained the legal and ethical responsibilities that lawyers have toward child clients.
In Part 2, we explained how Courts supervise settlement agreements that parents of injured child may enter into with the party that caused the injury, or their insurance carrier.
In this article, we explain how the settlement funds are paid and the what legal requirements must be followed in maintaining those funds.
In Oklahoma, a Child’s Settlement Funds must be deposited into a Bank
Oklahoma law requires that any parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem who recovers funds in excess of $1,000 in a court proceeding – after deducting litigation costs, attorney fees, and medical bills – must deposit those funds into a federally insured institution to be held until the child reaches the age of eighteen.
Once deposited, the funds cannot be withdrawn until the child reaches 18 without a court order.
If a friendly suit was filed, then a hearing will be held where the court hears the nature and amount of the settlement, approves whatever necessary deductions are requested, such as costs, attorney fees, and medical bills, and approves the amount to be deposited into a trust account at a bank.
The Court will then issued an order authorizing the deposit account. The Plaintiff or Attorney will take the Court Order to the bank to facilitate the opening of the account. The bank will then sign off on the order or some form of receipt, which the Attorney will return to the court clerk for filing in the case.
Can the Parent take home some of the funds immediately?
Upon request to the judge, the parent may receive immediately some funds from the settlement to be immediately paid and made available to the parent, for the benefit of the child of course. In such an instance, the parent should be prepared to demonstrate why immediate withdrawal is necessary. An example would be to show some expense or need of the child that justifies using the child’s money.
Early Withdrawal of the Funds requires a Court Order in Oklahoma
If the parent desires to withdraw funds early, then permission from the judge must be obtained. The procedure entails filing an application with the court, citing the reasons for the withdrawal, and setting the case for hearing before the judge. If the court approves the reasons cited by the parent/guardian, then the judge may issue an order allowing the withdrawal, which the parent/guardian will then present to the bank.