Fire Victim Trust

Frequently Asked Questions


Preliminary Payments


199. What is a Preliminary Payment?

A Preliminary Payment is an advanced payment that the Trust will issue to Claimants to help address the extreme hardships they are facing as a result of the pandemic and the recent and ongoing wildfires.


200. Who is eligible to receive a Preliminary Payment?

To be eligible for a Preliminary Payment from the Trust, a Claimant must: (1) have a claim related to an Included Fire; (2) have timely filed a Proof of Claim (i.e., have filed a Proof of Claim with the Bankruptcy Court by December 31, 2019); (3) submit a Claims Questionnaire containing as much information as is available about applicable real and personal property, personal injury, wrongful death and other claimed damages; and (4) satisfy other eligibility criteria.


201. How do I apply to receive a Preliminary Payment?

There is no separate application process for a Preliminary Payment. Rather, to be considered for a Preliminary Payment, you must have signed under penalty of perjury and submitted a Claims Questionnaire.


202. What are the eligibility requirements for a Preliminary Payment?

The Claims Administrator, in coordination with the Claims Processor and other Trust Professionals, will review all signed and submitted Claims Questionnaires to determine if they contain as much information as is currently available about applicable real and personal property, personal injury, wrongful death, and other claimed damages. The Claims Administrator will then estimate the probable final claim value of the submitted claim(s), analyzing information including but not limited to:


(a) The contents of the Claims Questionnaire and all supporting documents;


(b) Publicly available real estate, construction cost, and personal property replacement cost data; and


(c) Offsets for fire and casualty insurance policy limits, FEMA payments, and Wildfire Assistance Program payments.


After the Claims Administrator and Trust professionals complete their review confirming compliance with eligibility requirements, the Trustee may authorize a Preliminary Payment of up to 30% of an eligible pro rata determination for one or more individual Claims that the Claims Administrator and Trust Professionals have adjudicated.


203. What information and supporting documents do I need to provide to receive a Preliminary Payment?

To be considered for a Preliminary Payment, you must have signed under penalty of perjury and submitted a Claims Questionnaire.

You are not required to provide any supporting documents to receive a Preliminary Payment; however, the Trust will evaluate supporting documents that you submit with your Claims Questionnaire to estimate the probable final value of your claim(s) to determine whether you are eligible for a Preliminary Payment.


204. What is the award amount for Preliminary Payments?

The Trust will authorize Preliminary Payments of up to 30% of an eligible pro rata determination for one or more individual Claims that the Claims Administrator and Trust Professionals have adjudicated. The precise Preliminary Payment amount will be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on: (1) the contents of a Claims Questionnaire and all supporting documents; (2) publicly available real estate, construction cost, and personal property replacement cost data; and (3) offsets for fire and casualty insurance policy limits, FEMA payments, and Wildfire Assistance Program payments.


205. If the Trustee and Claims Administrator determine that I am eligible for a Preliminary Payment, will I receive that amount for each claim reflected on my Claims Questionnaire?

If you submitted a Claims Questionnaire and have not received a Determination Notice with a lump sum amount, you may receive up to 30% of an eligible pro rata determination for one or more individual Claims that the Claims Administrator and Trust Professionals have adjudicated.


206. If I submitted a Real Property Claim as a co-owner of a property and am eligible for a Preliminary Payment, how will the Trust allocate the Preliminary Payment among all co-owners?

If the Trustee determines that a Real Property Claim is eligible for a Preliminary Payment, the Trust will allocate the Preliminary Payment among all co-owners of the property, according to their individual ownership percentages.


207. If I submit additional claims or supporting documents, will the Trust consider issuing a true-up payment to me for the remaining amount?

The Trustee intends for Preliminary Payments to be one-time disbursements to help Claimants address the extreme hardships they are facing as a result of the pandemic and the recent and ongoing wildfires while the Trust is processing claims to final determinations. Preliminary Payment determinations are not appealable. However, the Trust will consider issuing true-up payments to Claimants who submit additional claims or supporting documents as the Claims Administrator and Trust Professionals complete their evaluation of individual claims for pro rata determinations.


208. Will the Trust notify me if I am eligible for a Preliminary Payment?

Yes. The Trust will issue a Notice of Preliminary Payment informing you, or your lawyer, if you are represented, of the Preliminary Payment amount. The notice will be informational-only, advising you of the forthcoming payment.


209. Can I appeal a Preliminary Payment determination?

No, the determination is not appealable.


210. Will the Preliminary Payment be offset from the final value of my claim?

Yes. If you receive a Preliminary Payment, it will be credited against and offset from the value of your Approved Claim(s).


211. When will the Trust begin issuing Preliminary Payments?

The Trust began issuing Preliminary Payments on November 23, 2020 and will continue to award Preliminary Payments on an ongoing basis as the Claims Administrator and Trust Professionals complete their evaluation of individual claims for pro rata determinations. The Trust will disburse these payments to the primary law firm of represented Claimants and will distribute awards to pro se Claimants directly to each Claimant.


212. Do I need to sign a Release before receiving a Preliminary Payment?

While the issuance of Preliminary Payments does not change the Release requirements provided in the Fire Victim Trust Agreement and Claims Resolution Procedures, you are not required to submit an executed Release before receiving a Preliminary Payment.


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