Can we stop our son from spending his settlement money irresponsibly?

by Kerrie
(Cambridge, Ohio)

Our son was 17 years old when he in a car accident where he had broke his neck in two places and his back. He had to have a 9-hour surgery. He turned 18 a month later and our lawyer told us he had to sign the papers once he turned 18, but they sent them to us and had him sign them when he was 17.

He can only get $100,000 minus the lawyer's fee due to the driver being under insured. What we were wondering is if we can control how he spends his money until he turns 21? He is only 18 and is very, very irresponsible. He's into drugs and alcohol which we thought would change once he was in the wreck, since the doctors kept telling him that they don't know how he's alive and not paralyzed.

He still lives with us but is wanting to move once he gets the money. We are in Ohio. Is there anything we can do to stop him from getting the money and blowing it on drugs and alcohol?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can we stop our son from spending his settlement money irresponsibly?":

Kerrie (Cambridge, Ohio):

You and your husband are in a precarious position. In almost all cases, unless there is an intervening court order, once a minor turns 18 he is normally entitled to compensation earlier paid on his behalf as a result of a car accident.

There may still be a way to stop the funds from going directly to your son, and instead be placed in a trust fund controlled by you and your husband. If so, you and your husband would be able to dole out money to your son to cover his "reasonable expenses." This could conceivably continue until such time as the court dissolves the order and allows your son full access.

Here's how this works... If a personal injury lawsuit was earlier filed on behalf of your son, and the case has not yet been dismissed, you and your husband may be able to file a "Third Party Petition to Intervene." The Petition will make clear to the court your serious concerns about your son alienating the assets of the lawsuit judgment or settlement.

The Petition will further ask the court to permit you and your husband to be trustees of a trust fund set up on behalf of your son. As trustees you would be in control of the court order or settlement for an indefinite period of time.

At anytime during your administration of the trust fund your son would have the right to file his own petition asking the court to turn over all the funds to you and end the trust. To do so your son would have to convince the court he is now a responsible person, free of drugs and alcohol. You'll need your own attorney to begin the process.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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