Protecting your loved ones from themselves in estate planning

When most people think of someone being addicted to drugs, they envision meth or crack addicts, along with individuals who get the munchies from smoking marijuana. However, a new type of addiction has gained footing in the country that breaks all boundaries and crosses economic and gender lines -- addiction to opioids. It's a painful fact that these days, many Arizona families deal with a loved one who suffers from such an addiction.

In many cases, what started out as a way to control pain after an injury turned into a personal nightmare for the addicted individual and his or her family alike. This is why many families are considering how to protect loved ones with addictions from themselves when they engage in estate planning. Some of the options available may not suit your particular circumstances, but knowing all of the options is important nevertheless.

Giving all of an inheritance at once

For better or worse, you do have the option of providing a loved one with an addiction an inheritance all at once. Your will can outline an amount of cash, a piece of property or some other assets. The problem lies in fact that you may have valid concerns regarding how your family member will spend such a bequest.

Giving another family member control over an inheritance

Another option to an outright inheritance is to place the inheritance with another family member, such as a sibling. The family member receiving the inheritance would then provide distributions to the addicted person. Obviously, a great deal of risk comes with this strategy. The family member may simply keep the inheritance, or it could become attached by creditors, in a divorce or under some other circumstances that would jeopardize the use of funds for the person with the addiction.

If the family member who received the inheritance on behalf of someone else dies, it would become part of his or her estate. In addition, it could cause issues in the relationship between one family member and the other.

Disinheriting a family member with an addiction

Depending on the circumstances, disinheriting a loved one with an addiction may be your best option. If you believe that doing so would be the best course of action, you may want to know that you must do this explicitly in your last will and testament. The downsides of taking this step include depriving your loved one of the resources to seek treatment and creating the potential for challenges to the will, which may only further degrade any ill feelings between the person disinherited and other family members.

Putting the inheritance into a trust

Another option is to create a trust with the addicted loved one as the beneficiary. It could outline the circumstances under which the trustee makes distributions, what the distributions could be made for and may protect the assets from being attached. Perhaps the most attractive part of this option is that you retain control over how your loved one receives the funds. You can know that he or she will be provided for in the manner you desire.

Of course, the success of any trust largely depends on the trustee. Choosing the person in charge of your family member's ability to receive distributions can be problematic.

Getting the right help to make and implement your decision

Making this choice involves understanding not only the gravity of it, but also the legalities involved. You may benefit from discussing the situation and your concerns with someone who can fully explain each choice, how it affects your loved one and what steps you need to take to properly document your decision.

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Scottsdale, AZ 85253

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