Estate Planning for the Beneficiary with an Addiction
You can protect your loved one with an addiction from themselves
Do you have a child or other loved one who is an addict ? Do you struggle with the thought of what will happen to your addicted child or loved one after you pass away? An Addiction Trust as part of your estate plan may be the solution.
Estate Planning for a loved one who is an addict is difficult and complex. It requires the assistance of an estate planning attorney with experience developing a plan to deal with the addictive behavior. The Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. created the Addiction Trust specifically to deal with the aspects of addictive behavior.
A carefully tailored Estate Plan which includes an Addiction Trust helps you achieve your goal of providing for your addicted loved one without jeopardizing the beneficiary’s well-being or feeding their addiction. Call the Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. at (847)253-7500 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney.
The Estate Plan must address the dynamics of the addictive behavior
In developing a plan, it is important that the family and the attorney understand the dynamics of the addictive behavior.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates that more than 50% of all adults have a family history of alcohol problems and that 8% of Americans over the age of 12 have used an illegal drug within the last 30 days. Up to 60% of patients who receive substance abuse treatment will relapse within one year, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The truth, which we know from decades of careful research, is that addiction is a chronic disease. Relapse is not a failure but instead a common part of recovery from addiction. Many recovering addicts have one or more relapses:What’s most important to understand is that recovery is a lifelong healing process.
Common Mistakes When Planning for the Addict
There are some common mistakes made in planning for an addicted loved one, including:
The last thing you want to do is to provide your addicted loved one with a lump sum cash inheritance. This could lead to disastrous results. Whether a squandered inheritance or worse, you could unknowingly be contributing to your child’s unhealthy lifestyle.
If the individual is addicted to certain hard drugs, receipt of a sum of money might even result in them buying too much of the substance resulting in overdose and death. Even if the addicted individual is not currently engaged in the addictive behavior, the receipt of a large sum of money may trigger a relapse.
Whether it is the drug dealer or the bookie, those individuals who prey on the addicted will undoubtedly become aware of your loved one’s inheritance and will do everything they can to influence them to feed the addiction.
Gifts to other family members
Gifts to other family members for benefit of the addicted individual also are bound to fail. The first issue is whether that individual will use the money for the addicted individual. Even if they do, what happens if that individual dies? It is also unfair to that family member, as having to deal with an addicted individual who wants” their money” is asking a lot, especially if the addict shows up at 3:00 am.
Disinherit the Child
Although many families may discuss disinheriting the addicted love one, this is not an effective strategy if your goals are to protect your loved one and to foster recovery from the addition.
The addicted loved one who is specifically disinherited is likely to feel hurt and ashamed, and it may result in further alienated from the family, the very people most likely to provide emotional, moral and perhaps financial support in any attempts at recovery.
While disinheriting the individual may prevent them from using the inheritance to further the addictive behavior, it does not help, and in fact may be detrimental, to achieving your goals and desires.
The Addiction Trust is the solution
To be effective the Trust has to provide the Addict with incentives
The Addiction Trust is a type of incentive Trust designed to make sure that your loved one always has minimal living provided, so they don’t end up homeless and on the street, while allowing your loved one to receive greater benefit from the Trust if they keep their addictive behavior under control.
The Addiction Trust is worded in such a way as not to be unduly burdensome or punitive to the addicted loved one, but rather to provide a financial incentive to seek out assistance, if they have not done so already, and also to ensure that sobriety and recovery is maintained.
The Trust must set guidelines, have consequences based upon behavior and be administered by a dispassionate Trustee
The Addiction Trust includes, but is not limited to, the following provisions:
- It requires the addicted individual to submit to random testing, no less than annually, to determine whether they are then actively engaging in the addictive behavior.
- While the addicted individual is not actively engaged in the addictive behavior the Trustee can pay for many additional services or things which will increase the quality of the addictive individual’s life.
- The Trustee may never make cash distributions to the Addicted Individual, and shall use all reasonable means from buying anything which the Addicted Individual could convert into cash to further his or her addiction.
- It has a third party corporate Trustee to handle the Trust Administration, where the Trust Company has experience dealing with individuals with disabilities and arranging and working with third party services to address the addicted individuals needs. Unlike a family member Trustee, the professional Trust is not subject to emotional and unreasonable demands by the addicted individual, thus allowing for better management of the Trust while avoiding conflict issues within your family. By appointing a family member to act as trustee, there is potential for converting a loving and supportive relationship into something that could quickly turn bitter or adversarial.
- It has a harassment provision which is designed to penalize the addicted individual from causing problems with the Trustee, any third-party service provider.
- It provides for the payment of rehabilitative or treatment programs.
While the Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. can assist the family in taking the appropriate legal steps to protect the family from the addicts destructive behavior, the family must reach out to others in similar situations to work through the numerous non-legal issues .
The following are some of a few resources available to the family.
- Al-Anon.org for family members of alcoholics
- Nar-anon.org for family members of drug addicts
- Gam-anon.org for family members of gambling addicts
- Coda.org for co-dependent family members
At the end of the day, individuals suffering from addiction need to find the ability within themselves to surrender to the fact that they are suffering from a disease and to seek treatment. The financial incentives and the availability of funds offered under the Addiction Trust can remove one major hurdle that might prevent an individual from seeking such assistance.
The Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. has developed a specialized stand alone Trust for an Addicted individual which can be incorporated into your overall Estate Plan.
Outside of Illinois, You Can Still Use The Addiction Trust
How can non-Illinois Residents do Estate Planning when they have a child or other loved one who is an addict?
In many locations there are no estate planning attorneys who have the experience and knowledge to plan for the loved one who suffers from Addiction. There is a solution. The Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. can help.
While the Attorneys from the Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. are only licensed in Illinois, they frequently work with a local estate planning attorney to incorporate the Addiction Trust into their State specific estate plan. Your local estate planning attorney will prepare the bulk of your estate plan and work with the Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. to incorporate the Addiction Trust into your plan, making sure that everything is in compliance with the laws of your State.
Call your local estate planning attorney today, and have them contact the Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. about incorporating the Addiction Trust into your estate plan. If you do not have an estate planning attorney and are in need of estate planning to protected a loved one with an addiction, then call one of the Attorneys at the Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. / Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. at (847)253-7500 today, and we can assist you in finding an estate planning attorney in your area who can assist and work with us to protect your loved one.
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