Fire Victim Trust

Frequently Asked Questions


Payments - Generally


219. As a Claimant, will my award be issued to my lawyer or directly to me?

If you are represented by a lawyer and entitled to an award, the Trust will issue your payment to your law firm. Your law firm will then pay funds to you according to whatever representation agreement you have in place.

 

If you are not represented by a lawyer, the Trust will issue your payment directly to you, in accordance with the payment instructions you provided on your Payment Election Form.


220. What documents are required for a law firm to receive payment from the Trust?

Each law firm is required to submit a Payment Election Form (“PEF”) and a W-9 Form through the law firm’s Portal. The law firm’s authorized designee should use the Law Firm’s information to complete the PEF and W-9 Form.


221. By what methods can a law firm choose to receive payment from the Trust?

Law firms can elect to receive payments by ACH Electronic Payment or check.


222. What documents are required for an unrepresented Claimant to receive payment from the Trust?

Each unrepresented Claimant entitled to an award is required to submit a Payment Election Form (“PEF”) through the Portal. Each Claimant entitled to an award must submit their own PEF. Some Claimants must also submit W-9 Forms to receive payment for certain Claim Types and circumstances.  


223. By what methods can an unrepresented Claimant choose to receive payment from the Trust?

All unrepresented Claimants can receive payments by ACH Electronic Payment or check. In addition, unrepresented Claimants who are classified as an Individual can also receive payments by Zelle®.


224. What is Zelle®?

Zelle is a payment app that allows you to send and receive money from your mobile device. You may access Zelle through your bank’s website and mobile app (if offered) or through the Zelle app linked to your debit card. To set up a Zelle account, contact your bank or financial institution. If you select the Zelle payment option, you agree to be bound by the Zelle Network® User Service Agreement. If you select payment by Zelle, you must sign up for Zelle via the Zelle app or website before the Fire Victim Trust issues the payment. Check with your bank or financial institution for any payment or credit limitations that may prevent the Zelle payment from being sent to you successfully.


225. What do I have to give the Fire Victim Trust to receive money with Zelle®?

All you need to give the Fire Victim Trust is your email address or U.S. mobile number—whichever you used to register with Zelle. The Payment Election Form section on your Portal includes step-by-step instructions on how to register with Zelle.


226. Is a Fire Victim Trust payment a taxable payment?

We are not in a position to provide guidance about the tax consequences of payments from the Fire Victim Trust. We suggest that Claimants consult with their tax advisors about such questions.


227. Are Fire Victim Trust payments exempt from being treated as income for state or federal benefit program?

We are not in a position to provide guidance about tax or eligibility implications of payments from the Fire Victim Trust. We suggest that Claimants speak with a tax advisor or representative from the state or federal benefits group for more information about their specific situations.


228. Will the Trust issue a Form 1099 to me for payments that I receive from the Trust?

If you are represented by an attorney, the Trust will issue a Form 1099 to your law firm for your total award amount, regardless of which Claim Types your award represents, for all Preliminary Payments and pro rata payments upon Final Determinations made within the given tax year. If you are not represented by an attorney, the Trust will issue the Form 1099 directly to you to the extent the underlying award(s) are potentially subject to IRS reporting requirements. It is your responsibility to make appropriate disclosures when and where necessary to the IRS and/or state taxing authorities. If you have questions about your potential tax obligations, you should consult with your tax advisor, CPA, or tax preparer.


229. Does the Trust have a procedure in place for an individual law firm to establish and receive payments through a qualified settlement fund (QSF)?

Yes. If an individual law firm determines it would like to establish a qualified settlement fund on an individual firm basis for Fire Victim Claimants, some of whom may be minors or adult persons with a disability, that law firm must follow the procedures outlined in Special Master Order No. 1: Procedure for Filing Qualified Settlement Fund Motions. The Procedure for Filing Qualified Settlement Fund Motions provides guidance and detail on this subject.


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