Annuitants currently in the process of selling a structured settlement, and those considering a sale in the near term, are likely to experience longer than normal delays in the process.
Since the middle of March, courts around the country have taken measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Some of those steps have been disruptive to various proceedings.
There has been no uniformity in what a court can do in its effort to protect public and employee safety. Neither the federal government nor the U.S. Department of Justice has issued any guidelines to the nation’s courts — federal, state or local — on how to handle cases during the coronavirus pandemic.
So courts in separate jurisdictions are handling the situation differently. Some are suspending certain types of proceedings. Others are conducting hearings via videoconferencing. And still others are continuing or rescheduling trials.
In Vermont, for example, all nonemergency superior court hearings are postponed until at least April 15, according to Law360.com.
Getting Court Approval During COVID-19 Pandemic
The sale of a structured settlement is completed after a process that can typically take 45 days to 60 days. The final step in the process is for a judge in a court of general competence (typically superior court) to approve the selling agreement between the annuitant and the buyer.
Court approval does not have to occur in an open hearing. But before a judge will approve any agreement, he or she will require oral pleadings from the seller. How a given court will address these types of hearings will vary across the country.
While disruptions in court proceedings are likely to create delays in some cases, it isn’t clear how this will affect the sale of structured settlements in different states. Still the possibility of a delay is not likely to discourage annuitants.
Those with a genuine need for the liquidity typically have no other choice. The likelihood is that the economic necessity will remain regardless of whether the selling process is prolonged as courts respond to the current coronavirus outbreak.