What Is an Asbestos Trust Fund?
An asbestos trust fund is one form of financial assistance available to mesothelioma patients. Many companies that made and sold asbestos-containing products put money in trust funds.
Between the 1980s and early 2010s, nearly 100 manufacturers of asbestos-containing products filed for bankruptcy after facing mesothelioma lawsuits. Dozens of these manufacturers established asbestos trust funds for victims.
There’s over $30 billion available in asbestos trust funds right now.
Filing a trust fund claim may allow those with mesothelioma to get compensation without going to court. Trust fund claims can also be filed by those with other asbestos-related diseases (like asbestosis or lung cancer).
The Mesothelioma Resource Group can help you pursue money from asbestos trust funds right now if you’re eligible. It’s often possible to start getting money in as little as 90 days from asbestos trust funds.
Learn more about asbestos trust funds and other forms of financial aid in our free mesothelioma guide.
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Why Were Asbestos Trust Funds Established?
Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products were forced to set up trust funds if they filed for bankruptcy.
Many manufacturers considered bankruptcy to avoid paying those who filed asbestos lawsuits against them. Bankrupt asbestos companies cannot be sued and any legal action against them stops. Under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code, the manufacturers could then reorganize their financial assets and keep operating.
What’s awful about this is that for decades, manufacturers knew that asbestos could lead to life-threatening cancers like mesothelioma and said nothing. The risks of asbestos were known by manufacturers since at least the 1930s, but they hid the facts to keep profits up.
Allowing these manufacturers to still operate without paying the thousands that develop mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases every year would be unacceptable.
Fortunately, the U.S. bankruptcy code was amended to force companies that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to put money into trusts to pay current and future victims.
Who Is Able to File a Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claim?
The following people can file asbestos trust fund claims:
- Those with asbestos-related illnesses: Anyone with mesothelioma, asbestos-caused lung cancer, asbestosis, or other similar diseases may qualify to file an asbestos trust fund claim.
- Family members: Loved ones and family members may be able to file an asbestos trust fund claim on behalf of someone who is too sick to file on their own, or who passed away.
- Attorneys: Like family members, a mesothelioma attorney might be able to file trust fund claims on behalf of someone with an asbestos-related disease. It’s very important to consider using an attorney to file your claim. Mesothelioma lawyers can see how many trust funds you may qualify for. They’ll also help to build and file your claim quickly.
The key to filing an asbestos trust fund claim is proving that you or your loved one was exposed to products listed under the trust. Ideally, you’ll also need a report from a medical expert that links your illness back to asbestos exposure and records that show you worked with or around asbestos.
You may be able to file claims with many different asbestos trust funds depending on which products you were exposed to. A skilled asbestos attorney can see which trust funds you qualify for and get the evidence needed to prove your case.
Asbestos Trust Fund Payouts
In total, asbestos trust funds pay out $400,000 on average to those with mesothelioma. This number represents the total amount the average patient receives from all the asbestos bankruptcy trust funds they qualify for.
That said, there are many different factors that affect how much money you can receive from an asbestos trust fund payment.
These factors include:
- Disease levels: Trust funds classify different asbestos-related diseases into levels. Higher levels award more asbestos trust fund compensation. The trusts pay out the most money for mesothelioma (which is the highest disease level).
- Money in the trust: Each asbestos trust fund has a different amount of money. Some trusts may pay hundreds of thousands of dollars while others may award only a few hundred. Fortunately, it’s common for those with mesothelioma to qualify for compensation from dozens of trusts — meaning they have a better chance of getting more money.
- Payment percentages: Asbestos trust funds must pay those who file valid claims each year while still having enough money left over to pay future claims. Because of this, the trusts are allowed to pay only a percent of a claim’s full value. Payment percentages can change over time, and not always for the better. For this reason, it’s important to file a mesothelioma trust fund claim sooner rather than later.
- Review process: When an asbestos trust fund claim is submitted, it must be reviewed by the board of trustees. There are two options for review: an individual review and an expedited review. Individual reviews take more time and could award more or less money. An expedited review simply determines if the claim meets the trust’s basic criteria and awards a pre-set amount of money.
A mesothelioma attorney can estimate much you can get from asbestos trust funds. Call (888) 360-2406 to find out if you can file trust fund claims now.
Recent Asbestos Trust Fund Payouts
The average payout for an asbestos trust fund varies greatly.
Recent trust funds have awarded mesothelioma patients:
- $215,000 (Owens Corning asbestos trust subfund)
- $135,000 (Fibreboard asbestos trust subfund)
- $110,000 (Armstrong World Industries asbestos trust)
- $90,000 (Babcock & Wilcox asbestos trust)
All of the amounts listed above are for cases where the claim went through an expedited review.
However, the trust fund amounts listed above do not reflect what people actually receive due to payment percentages. While some trusts do pay in full, others only award part of the claim’s full value so the trust can have money left over for others.
Asbestos Trust Fund List
Most of the major companies that made and sold asbestos-containing products went on to establish asbestos trust funds.
Notable asbestos trust fund companies include:
- Armstrong World Industries
- Babcock & Wilcox
- Federal Mogul
- General Motors Corporation
- Johns-Manville Corporation
- Kaiser Aluminum
- National Gypsum Company
- United States Gypsum
- Western Asbestos
- W.R. Grace
There are dozens of manufacturers not listed above that also have asbestos funds. Our team can help identify which asbestos-containing products you were exposed to and find the asbestos trust funds you may qualify for. Call (888) 360-2406 right now to learn more.
How to File Asbestos Trust Fund Claims
Filing an asbestos trust fund claim is a multi-step process, but working with a skilled mesothelioma attorney can make the process much easier. Learn how you may be able to file an asbestos trust fund claim — and get money in 90 days or less — below.
1. Connect With a Mesothelioma Lawyer
The first step in filing a mesothelioma fund claim is to find a top asbestos attorney. Attorneys at top mesothelioma law firms have a deep understanding of asbestos trust funds and can help you file a claim with less hassle than if you tried to do so on your own.
Asbestos lawyers can:
- Identify which asbestos trust funds you may qualify for
- Build and file trust fund claims on your behalf
- See if you qualify for other forms of compensation (like legal claims & military benefits)
Your attorney will likely ask you questions related to your work history (notably, how you may have been exposed to asbestos) and mesothelioma diagnosis before filing any claims. This background information is the foundation for building your trust fund claim.
2. Meet Asbestos Trust Fund Criteria
After getting initial information about your asbestos exposure history and diagnosis, mesothelioma attorneys can look at each trust fund’s criteria for eligibility.
Common asbestos fund criteria include:
- You worked with or around asbestos products listed by the trust
- Medical proof linking your illness to asbestos exposure
- Evidence or statements that show others exposed to the same products got money from the trust
Notably, many trust funds have approved job sites listed in their trust distribution procedures (TDPs) — legal documents that outline how the trust operates. If you worked at a job site listed by the trust, you have a better shot at receiving compensation.
3. File Your Trust Fund Claims
Once you and your attorneys have gathered the right information, your can be filed with the trusts.
It’s possible to file asbestos trust fund claims alongside private legal claims (which allow you to get money from companies that don’t have trusts). Doing so will allow you to get the most amount of compensation possible in your case.
Your attorneys will keep you updated after your asbestos trust fund claim has been filed if anything else is needed on your end. For example, the trust may ask for more information that you and your attorneys will need to provide.
4. Claim Review and Payout
Once the asbestos trust fund claim has been filed, you can choose to have the claim go through either the individual review or expedited review process. Your attorney can advise you on which of these options would be best for your case.
- Individual reviews may require you to provide additional evidence about your asbestos exposure, work history, and diagnosis. This type of trust fund claim also may take longer to process. Finally, you might receive either more or less money than from an expedited review.
- Asbestos trust fund claims that are filed through the expedited review process will automatically be approved if there’s enough evidence provided upfront and pay out at a set amount.
After the claim has been reviewed, the trust will then send you an offer for compensation that you’ll need to sign. You will then start to receive payment.
The time it takes to get compensation will vary with each asbestos trust fund. That said, other patients have often started to get money from trusts in 90 days after filing their claims.
Statutes of Limitations on Asbestos Trust Fund Claims
There are time limits called statutes of limitations on how long you have to file an asbestos trust fund claim. You won’t be able to recover financial compensation from a trust fund if the deadline passes.
Each asbestos trust fund sets its own limits on when a claim must be filed. The trusts also establish certain rules for when action must be taken on claims once they’ve been filed.
For example, you may choose to defer a claim after it’s filed, which means the trust won’t take any action on it until you say to do so. You’ll have a set amount of time to do something with the deferred claim (typically a couple of years).
An attorney can help you file claims with asbestos trust funds before the statute of limitations runs out.
Legislation About Asbestos Trust Funds
Asbestos trust funds were created as part of updates to federal laws. In recent years, lawmakers have also suggested new bills that could impact asbestos trust funds. These proposals have been controversial and criticized by those who support mesothelioma victims.
Learn about legislation related to asbestos trust funds below.
The FACT Act
The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act) was proposed in 2015. The act’s sponsors claimed it would reign alleged fraud within the trust fund system.
However, leading groups that advocate for asbestos victims were opposed to the FACT Act. The act would set up rules that would make it harder for victims to get money from trust funds — and make it easier for manufacturers to defend themselves from lawsuits.
A spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group noted that the act was actually sponsored by companies that still used asbestos. Linda Reinstein, president and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, also spoke out against the FACT Act.
Though the FACT Act passed the House of Representatives in 2016, no further action was taken on it. A similar bill called the PROTECT Asbestos Victims Act was introduced in 2021 but never became law either.
Asbestos Trust Funds and the DOJ
Like lawmakers who want to place tighter restrictions on asbestos trust funds, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has also taken an aggressive stance on the funds in recent years.
For example, a company called Bestwall was looking to set up a trust but wanted the court system “to authorize discovery from other asbestos trusts to which claimants have submitted claims.”
The DOJ released a statement of interest at the end of 2020 supporting Bestwall’s idea and criticizing the alleged lack of transparency in existing trusts.
The DOJ released a similar statement of interest in 2018 for a different trust that was proposed by Kaiser Gypsum Company and Hanson Permanente Cement. It also objected to a lawyer who was to oversee the rights of future claimants in a trust set up by Duro Dyne that same year.
Get Compensation from an Asbestos Trust Fund
Asbestos trust funds are an important way for mesothelioma patients and their families to get financial aid.
Key points to remember about trusts include:
- A trust fund claim is not a lawsuit
- Time is limited to file your claim — don’t wait
- Trusts pay $400,000 on average if you have mesothelioma
- You may start to get money within 90 days
- You can file trust fund claims and lawsuits at the same time
The Mesothelioma Resource Group can help you file asbestos trust fund claims right now. Get a free case review to find out your eligibility and legal options.
FAQs About Asbestos Trust Funds
How long does it take to get money from an asbestos trust fund?
While each asbestos trust fund is different, it may be possible to start getting money in 90 days or less depending on when you file.
Other factors, such as the type of review process your claim goes through, what evidence you provide, and when the trust awards payment, can all affect when you get compensated.
A mesothelioma attorney can guide you through the trust fund process and let you know when to expect financial payouts.
Is filing an asbestos trust fund claim the same thing as filing a mesothelioma lawsuit?
No. Filing a claim with an asbestos trust fund is similar, but not exactly the same, as filing a mesothelioma lawsuit.
Mesothelioma lawsuits are filed against companies that didn’t establish trust funds. Further, these lawsuits typically award slightly more compensation than asbestos trust fund claims do.
However, you don’t have to choose one over the other. By working with a top mesothelioma attorney, you may be able to file both asbestos trust fund claims and mesothelioma lawsuits at the same time. Doing so can allow you to access the most amount of compensation possible for your case.
When were mesothelioma trust funds established?
The first asbestos trust fund was established by Johns-Manville in the early 1980s. Johns-Manville was one of the most notable manufacturers of asbestos-containing products.
Johns-Manville first filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1982 and, after several years, re-emerged by establishing the Manville personal injury settlement trust in 1988. Other manufacturers would follow the lead of Johns-Manville and create their own trusts after filing for bankruptcy.
How much money is left in asbestos trust funds?
There’s currently over $30 billion left in asbestos trust funds right now. This amount represents how much is available in all trusts combined.
You or your loved ones may be able to access a portion of this money by filing asbestos trust fund claims. You’ll be able to receive more financial compensation depending on what asbestos-based products you were exposed to, among other factors.
How do I reach an asbestos trust fund settlement?
You technically cannot reach an asbestos trust fund settlement as settlements occur during lawsuits.
You receive money from an asbestos trust fund by filing a claim and providing proper evidence (such as where you worked, what asbestos-based products you were exposed to, and medical records related to your diagnosis).
Mesothelioma attorneys can help you pursue settlements with companies that didn’t create trust funds while also filing asbestos trust fund claims. Doing so will allow them to get the most amount of mesothelioma compensation possible for you and your family.