News of addiction to both prescription and illicit drugs grows more common. Substance abuse, now referred to as substance use disorder, is difficult to address within the family.
In addition to the pain of watching your loved one damage their life with drugs, alcohol or another harmful substance, this disorder complicates making estate plans.
Stop avoiding the problem
Some families choose to disinherit the family member with this disorder to avoid confronting the issue, while others avoid estate planning altogether. They postpone making decisions with the hopes that the individual will seek help and become reliable and trustworthy over time. Neither of these options is effective or productive, particularly when it comes to safeguarding your estate.
Intestate succession is the law that determines where assets go when an individual dies without a will. If a parent or spouse dies without a will, the individual often receives a percentage of the estate. This can also happen when estate planning names the individual with the addiction as the executor or as a beneficiary.
Devise a safety plan
Parents looking for the middle ground can use a trust to develop a safety net against financial mismanagement. A substance-dependent beneficiary receives financial support either through a revocable trust or trust outlined in the will but the individual does not receive unrestricted access to the funds. A trustee distributes funds as necessary and within the individual’s best interest.
The worst thing you can do when you face this situation is to avoid the problem. Proactively address this concern during estate planning to protect your loved one from using their inheritance to support an addiction.