NETWORK OF KNOWLEDGE
Millennium Settlements, Inc. opened its doors in 1984 with the goal of becoming an industry leader in the very specialized field of personal injury settlement consulting. Today, Millennium is the leader in plaintiff-focused structured settlement consulting services. With three offices in Tallahassee, Florida; San Diego, California; and most recently in Austin, Texas, the firm also has consultants located across 39 states. Millennium’s consultants offer comprehensive advisory services and financial products in the industry, designed to serve plaintiff attorneys and injured claimants – including loved ones and caretakers – by meeting their unique needs and concerns. John “Jay” Scarola, a Millennium Settlement consultant from West Palm Beach, Florida attributes Millennium’s long-standing success to its loyalty to the plaintiff bar, Florida Justice Association and the company’s dedication to recruiting the industry’s most talented and well-respected consultants and professional staff.
Earlier this year, Millennium Settlements became a national sponsor for TrialSmith, which partners with more than 43 trial lawyer associations across the country. Through this important sponsorship, Millennium provides extensive support to the plaintiff bar including free list servers, EClips and e-communities for more than 48,000 plaintiff lawyers, the most popular networking solution and document exchange for trial lawyers today. Millennium is also a platinum sponsor and partner of the National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives, providing annual support for the collective efforts of trial lawyer associations in North America.
Scarola explains that, “In additional to these sponsorships, Millennium also has key partnerships with trust companies, Medicare Set-Aside firms, lien resolution firms, and the banking, brokerage, and financial planning industries. This network of knowledge gives Millennium’s consultants access to the best tools and the most up-to-date industry information, enabling us to provide the most comprehensive settlement solutions to our clients.”
While the majority of cases for Millennium Settlements involve physical injury, wrongful death or workers’ compensation, claimants involved in any type of lawsuit can structure either a portion or all of their settlement proceeds. In fact, in recent years, consultants have witnessed a rise in the number of claimants involved in employment litigation cases who opt to structure their settlement proceeds in order to help defer taxation to future years.
“It is important for attorneys to advise their clients of their ability to structure a portion of their settlement,” Scarola says. “Claimants only have one opportunity to structure and receive tax-free (if physical injury) or tax-deferred (if nonphysical injury) settlement proceeds. To preserve this option, it is critical that the appropriate steps be taken while the case is still in negotiations.”
Millennium’s consultants offer an array of financial options for both claimants and attorneys, including but not limited to structured settlements, proprietary deferred attorney-fee solutions, Medicare Set-Asides; and through their corporate partnerships, lien resolution services, settlement preservation trusts and special needs trust, if appropriate.
INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES
An attorney fee structure is a method of deferring income and taxation on the current year’s earned fees, while at the same time guaranteeing future income for retirement, office overhead, children’s education or other anticipated needs.
Millennium Settlements offers several powerful and unique options for attorneys who want to defer income and taxes— from a traditional structured settlement annuity to exclusive and proprietary market-based programs: Enhanced Attorney Fee Structure (EAFS), which allows for fees to be placed in carefully selected Vanguard Funds, and Fee Structure Plus which allows for the attorney to utilize a trust company or their own financial adviser to manage their funds on a pretax basis in a manner consistent with their other financial holdings.
“We don’t provide tax or legal advice,” Scarola says. “We don’t market or sell securities. Attorneys should consult their own legal, financial and tax advisers for specific recommendations; however, I do encourage them to consider attorney fee structures to help with their future income and tax planning needs. We will work with the attorney’s advisers to successfully meet their needs.”
FOCUS ON THE CLIENT
Millennium Settlements prides itself on being a plaintiff focused structured settlement firm. But what does this mean? Millennium consultants offer comprehensive, needs-based solutions. Scarola prides himself and his company on their ability to take the time to listen to the claimant and understand their unique circumstances.
According to Scarola, he and the other consultants try to meet each claimant, whether at mediation or during the settlement process to discuss the claimant’s situation, understand the family dynamics, health concerns, housing needs, educational needs and current financial situation. “It is important to get the complete picture in order to determine if a structured settlement is appropriate and if so, how it should be designed,” Scarola says. “Often, by bringing the potential settlement down to terms of daily living, we can help bring a realistic perspective to the claimants to help them preserve their settlement dollars for years into the future.”
In addition to settlement planning during the negotiation process, Millennium Settlements created the Millennium Angel Foundation in 2009 to further support injured victims. The purpose of the foundation is to raise money and provide funding to injured victims who have gone through the settlement process but did not receive an adequate settlement due to a lack of insurance. The foundation is funded by generous contributors, including Millennium consultants and employees who have dedicated a portion of their income to assist people in need.
Millennium’s consultants serve as important members of an attorney’s settlement team by providing more than just annuity quotes. Millennium’s consultants help price life care plans, provide present value calculations, attend mediations, draft settlement documents, and if the defense has their own structured settlement consultant, then negotiate with defense consultant regarding appropriate life insurance companies and documents.
ABOUT JOHN “JAY” SCAROLA
John “Jay” Scarola started his career in the insurance industry as a financial service specialist with Met Life Financial Services. After spending a year as an agent for Met Life, he decided to make the switch to the structured settlements industry in early 2001.
Since joining Millennium, Scarola has dedicated his time to helping catastrophically injured clients maximize their settlement proceeds. Although Scarola’s practice is based out of West Palm Beach, his willingness to help injury victims has taken him up and down the East Coast of the United States and as far west as Nevada. In addition to assisting injury victims, Scarola has expanded his practice by working with commercial litigation claimants to help them maximize their settlement proceeds as well. Scarola has obtained the distinguished certified structured settlement consultant designation through the National Structured Settlement Trade Association program developed in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business Executive Education Program.