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Creating an estate plan when your child is an addict

As challenging as it may be for anyone to consider and establish an estate plan, you have an added complication if your son or daughter is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Your plans to leave your children your estate, life insurance benefits or other assets is frustrated by the potential disaster that may follow if your addicted child receives an inheritance. Even for those in recovery, such a windfall may be the equivalent of a death sentence.

There are options, but it may be difficult to know which one is the best for the wellbeing of your family. Leaving an inheritance that is fair to all of your children may seem nearly impossible when one child's situation requires a delicate balance of prudence and generosity.

Should I disinherit my child?

Your temptation may be to disinherit your addicted child altogether. After all, you may have already spent considerable money for legal fees related to your child's substance abuse, paid for treatment or rehab numerous times, and potentially lost money or other assets if your child resorted to theft to feed his or her habit. In the name of fairness to your other children, you may be considering cutting your child out of the will completely.

The danger with disinheritance is that, after you are gone, you do not have the opportunity to change your mind if your child should achieve sobriety. Additionally, without careful attention to the details of the law, your efforts to disinherit your child may lead to an estate contest that could cost all of your heirs as they fight the dispute in court.

A better alternative

Using a spendthrift trust is one positive way to leave your addicted child a portion of your estate without placing his or her life in danger. The trust holds the inheritance, protects it from creditors and allows you to provide essential financial support for your child through the oversight of a trustee. The trust can pay for food, clothing, shelter, treatment and other items while keeping the money out of the hands of the addict.

You may also add incentives to the trust, which reward the child for reaching certain goals. For example, your child may receive a designated amount of his or her inheritance after maintaining sobriety for a certain length of time. Your Nevada attorney can assist you in drafting a solid trust for the protection and support of your child as well as creating an estate plan that is as fair and comprehensive as possible in your situation.

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