David Howard Goldberg, P.L.

Families use trusts for heirs with addictions

Few families in Florida or elsewhere in the country are untouched by the opioid epidemic. Drug overdose is now the number one cause of death for those younger than 50 in the United States. Drug addiction has no demographic, and families of all backgrounds are watching loved ones struggle with the powerful hold of heroin, prescription drugs and other substances. Because of this added complication when it comes to estate planning, many include trusts among their documents.

Parents are often caught in a difficult position when a child is an addict. They may have already spent thousands of dollars trying to help the child achieve sobriety or lost assets if the child resorted to theft to support his or her habit. Siblings of the addicted child may harbor resentment, and parents may consider disinheriting a child who may use any inheritance to continue feeding a drug habit. The risk of this decision is that it may place the estate in jeopardy if the disinherited child challenges the will.

One option is for parents with an addicted child to include an incentive trust in their estate plan. This type of trust holds the inheritance and requires certain behaviors of the beneficiary before he or she can obtain any portion of the funds. For example, the child may have to complete rehab, test negative for drugs or maintain gainful employment before receiving a payment from the trust.

Because of the sensitive nature of the terms of the trust, parents will have to obtain permission from their child for the trustee to access certain medical records. To avoid conflicts, it will be critical for the child to fully understand the terms of the trust and what is expected of him or her. For help with these and other questions and concerns regarding trusts, many Florida parents seek the advice of an estate planning attorney.

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