It isn’t always necessary to disinherit someone with an addiction

Those battling chemical dependence may have a difficult time maintaining social and familial relationships. They may lose their jobs or find themselves struggling with debilitating symptoms as they withdraw from their substance of choice. Addiction often leads to criminal activity as people seek to source their substance of choice through any means possible. Some people will steal from friends and family members to fund their addiction. Others will steal medication and alcohol, either from people or possibly from businesses. They may give their families hope when they regain sobriety, only to relapse when life becomes difficult.

Someone who is trying to put together an estate plan needs to consider not just who expects to inherit but what they would do with an inheritance. The good news is that disinheriting a loved one with addiction is not the only option for concerned family members.

Trusts can help people more than a will-based inheritance

The reason that so many people disinherit family members with an addiction is that they worry about triggering a relapse. Even if someone currently has their substance abuse disorder under control, the trauma of losing a loved one combined with an influx of capital could lead to some very bad decisions.  Of course, the trauma of losing a loved one combined with the shame they may feel over their disinheritance might also lead to someone relapsing.

If someone wants to leave an inheritance for a child or grandchild struggling with alcoholism or drug abuse, a trust is the most realistic solution. Trusts can limit how much of an inheritance people receive at one time. The trustee can also directly control the distribution of assets. Instead of giving resources and capital to the beneficiary, they may issue payments directly to healthcare providers, landlords and educational institutions.

An individual’s history, the type of addiction they struggle with and the resources they might inherit will all influence the best way to create a trust for someone with a substance abuse disorder. Properly structuring and funding a trust can allow testators to leave resources for those who might harm themselves if given a lump-sum inheritance.

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