Canadian Lawyer

June 2020

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Page 47 of 51

46 Rather than indulge stock market divi- nation, Laura Mullin, principal at McKellar Structured Settlements Inc., is encourag- ing people to look at settlements more like a substitute pay cheque and less like a sum to be invested. "People are thinking about structures again because of the market volatility," says Mullin. "There's always risk associated with tradi- tional investment markets in the normal course, but the market volatility we're seeing here is like something we haven't seen certainly in my lifetime and in many people's lifetimes. Structured settlements are once again being looked at as a safe haven . . . for injured clients, so that their focus can be on continued improvement, continued thera- pies, continued rehabilitation." A common question, to be sure, is around rates — and whether "locking in" an annuity contract or the low-interest-rate environ- ment dooms a client to a lifetime of low returns. "Of course, rates on structured settlements are down slightly from where they were, before the crisis hit. But we're not seeing the sharp declines, the sharp volatility — we're not seeing the same impact as the current market turmoil that is being felt in other traditional investment markets," says Mullin. "There's a bit of an assumption when people contact us, a concern about, 'Is this a good time to be structuring because rates are low?' There's a misconception that structured settlement rates are like bond rates." As the old economics professor adage goes, "The later money is received, the less value it holds." At a time when many are already tightening budgets, a lump-sum cash influx may have allure. An elderly client, for example, might want their money in hand amid economic uncer- tainty, particularly pending the availability of a suitable short-term annuity, says Kurt Bergmanis, a partner at Bergmanis Preyra LLP in Toronto, which deals with plain- tiff-side personal injury claims. "I'm certainly still recommending the use of structures. . . . I certainly anticipate courts will continue to approve settlements for younger plaintiffs where there is that guarantee of LEGAL REPORT STRUCTURED SETTLEMENTS "The structured settlement that was implemented last year, 10 years ago, 30 years ago, is still continuing to pay, still safeguarded." Laura Mullin, McKellar Structured Settlements Inc. TSX MARKET VOLATILITY 20,000 15,000 10,000 01-02-2020 01-03-2020 01-06-2020 01-07- 2020 01-08-2020 01-09-2020 01-10-2020 01-13-2020 01-14-2020 01-15-2020 01-16-2020 01-17-2020 01-20-2020 01-21-2020 01-22-2020 01-23-2020 01-24-2020 01-27-2020 01-28-2020 01-29-2020 01-30-2020 01-31-2020 02-03-2020 02-04-2020 02-05-2020 02-06-2020 02-07-2020 02-10-2020 02-11-2020 02-12-2020 02-13-2020 02-14-2020 02-18-2020 02-19-2020 02-20-2020 02-21-2020 02-24-2020 02-25-2020 02-26-2020 02-27-2020 02-28-2020 03-02-2020 03-03- 2020 03-04-2020 03-05-2020 03-06-2020 03-09-2020 03-10-2020 03-11-2020 03-12-2020 03-13-2020 03-16-2020 03-17-2020 03-18-2020 03-19-2020 03-20-2020 03-23-2020 03-24-2020 03-25-2020 03-26-2020 03-27-2020 03-30-2020 03-31-2020 04-01-2020 04-02-2020 04-03-2020 04-06-2020 04-07-2020 04-08-2020 04-09-2020 04-13-2020 04-14-2020

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