COLUMBUS—State Representative Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira) today announced the passage of House Bill 223, which modernizes Ohio’s structured settlement protection statute. Structured settlements are a voluntary legal method of compensating injury victims, typically through periodic annuity payments.


Using the National Conference of Insurance’s 2016 model as a guide, several updates were included in House Bill 223. The legislation removes the requirement that two separate courts or administrative agencies approve transfers. By eliminating this requirement, the process becomes less expensive, removes redundancies, and places Ohio in line with all other states. 


The bill also eliminates the requirement that payees seeking to transfer payment rights obtain independent professional advice. Most adults manage their own financial affairs and do not need to consult professional advice. However, should a judge feel concerned about a payee’s understanding of a transaction, questioning is allowed to ensure the concept is grasped.


In order to ensure the payee’s understanding of the transfer, House Bill 223 requires disclosure statements to specify the APR, rather than the confusing calculation used today, and requires in-person hearings, with some exceptions, giving the judge the opportunity to assess the payee’s grasp of situation. Judges are granted access to relevant information, through a provision requiring every applicant to include a summary of prior transfers and recent proposed transfers of the payee, even if not completed. 


Clarifying language is included to ensure that dependents’ interests are taken into consideration, but that those interests do not outweigh the interests of the payee. Clarifications are also made to the impacts and liabilities for all parties involved in the original settlement and the transfer.


While the national model places jurisdiction in the general division of the state trial court, Ohio will maintain jurisdiction of the probate court based on the probate court’s history with this type of transaction. 


House Bill 223 now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

 
 
 
  
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