You should not cash out your annuity when it's not in your best interest.
Here are 3 reasons it might not be in your best interest; it's too soon, you don't have a good enough reason, it will cost you too much. Every day someone cashes out their annuity or settlement when it might not have been in their best interest. It's an easy mistake to make when the call of money and burden of financial stress is weighing heavily on you. But read carefully and maybe you can avoid digging the hole deeper.
If you are a minor, or the parent of a minor trying to cash out an annuity, it's too soon. Courts will rarely approve an advance of a minors settlement except in cases of extreme need. A guardian will need to be appointed to make sure the transaction is in the best interests of the minor and not the parent. Another way it can be too soon, your payments are too far away. $100,000 due in 2025 is not going to get you $100,000 today. In fact, you won't even get $25,000. The payout date is too far away.
Unless you have a good enough reason. If you feel secure that your $25,000 dollars will yield over the next 20 years a return equivalent to the $100,000 you would have received, than maybe it's not such a bad idea. Plenty of courts around the country will be very interested in your reason for acceleration your settlement or annuity payments. Judges do their best to evaluate for you whether the transaction is your best option. Turning in your monthly payments to buy a new car may not be the best idea. Buying a home, attending school, averting financial disaster, keeping a home, important medical needs, all are great reasons to cash in future payments. Anything else deserves a second look and more serious consideration.
What also deserves serious consideration is the bottom line. If you have to give up 50% or more of your annuity's value is it worth it? That's a very expensive purchase you are making when you give up $100,000 to get $25,000. And if your $25,000 buys you a car that depreciates and breaks down in 5 years, you have so little to show for your money. I think investing in start up businesses, vacations, recreational vehicles, and entertainment items are often questionable reasons to cash in structured settlement payments.
The courts, the settlement cash out companies, your family and friends will all have their opinions as to whether you should get an advance on your future payments. But the risk and responsibility to make the best possible choice rests on your shoulders. Ask yourself if what you are getting is worth what you are giving up. There are great reasons to get your money sooner rather than later, but there are also times when cashing out is not in your best interest.
Jason M. Rigler
Committed to educating future payment recipients in the good, bad, and ugly of accelerating payments.