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Navigating the Complexities of Estate Planning with Addiction in the Family

Complexities of Estate Planning with Addiction in the Family | Estate Planning Attorney | Call 561-955-8515

Addiction is a life-long complication, one that can make it difficult for families to make key decisions. If your family member is struggling with substance abuse, you may be unsure how to navigate factors like Estate Planning with addiction in the family – should you do anything differently to protect your family member and your estate?

At The Siegel Law Group, our South Florida Estate Planning Attorneys can help you navigate the specifics of your situation, helping you put in place tools and strategies to protect your future and your loved one with addiction.

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The Unique Challenges of Estate Planning with Addiction in the Family

Addiction is a hidden but complicated disease. Yet, it’s more present than most people realize. There are 61.2 million people over the age of 12 in the United States who used illicit drugs in the previous year, according to a 2021 survey from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. About 46.3 million of those people met the qualifications under Social Security Disability to be qualified as having a substance use disorder. This is an incredible number of people, many of whom – about 94% according to data from the same report – do not get substance abuse treatment.

This demonstrates the risk that presents itself not just to that family member and their health but also to their financial well-being and that of their estate. To be frank, a person with a substance use disorder may need a very different set of estate planning and inheritance tools and protections than other family members when it comes to planning for and protecting their future. Here are some factors to keep in mind.

Protect Your Loved One From Financial Exploitation

Substance abuse changes the function of the brain. A person with dependency is unable to make the decision not to use substances because of the way their brain has been altered by the substance to seek it out at all costs. For that reason, these individuals become very specific targets for exploitation. Here are some examples:

  • Paying for substances with rent money
  • Using their earnings to purchase substances for others
  • Increasingly needing to spend more to have enough money to pay for related substance purchases – including as their tolerance grows and they need more of the same product

Financial exploitation can come from those who steal from a person with addiction as well. They may be willing to do anything they can to get more of the substance they crave, and, ultimately, they become victims of abuse from others.

Ensure That Their Assets Are Used Responsibly

For many families who are entrusting funds to their family members, this is a very real concern – and a valid one as well. A person with a substance use disorder is unable to make wise decisions for themselves simply because they are driven by their need to purchase and use that substance. Again, this is related to the changes in the brain function. This can put assets at risk, including:

  • Spending their money to purchase substances
  • Facing increasing legal troubles due to illicit drug use
  • Falling behind on financial responsibilities, leading to creditor action against them

This puts your assets and that of your family members on the line. A disease like addiction can cause a ripple effect throughout the family as well, especially if you find yourself needing to pay for criminal defense attorneys and addiction treatment programs.

There Are Estate Planning Tools That Can Help When Their Is Addiction In The Family

If you have a family member who is battling addiction, take several steps to help them and protect your assets. With the help of your Estate Planning Lawyer, you will be able to choose the best strategies for minimizing risk to your family.

Power of Attorney
The establishment of Power Of Attorney can be critically important because it enables you, as a responsible individual, to have the legal right to make decisions for your family member if they cannot do so themselves. Because overdose is a real threat, they may need someone who can make decisions about their medical care in a time of need or to access their accounts to pay their bills if they are in treatment.

Trusts allow you to transfer some of your estate to your family member, which may ultimately be your goal. However, they allow you to put restrictions in place on how and when the funds can be accessed and even when a person can use those funds. A third party can be put in charge of the trust, meaning someone else can ensure your wishes are met, and your family member cannot use the funds to further their addiction.

One example of this is the use of a spendthrift trust. It allows your family member to have access to the funds they need to meet their ongoing needs but does not allow the beneficiary to sell or give away equitable interest in the trust property. For example, if you have a family business, you may not want your family member to have the ability to simply hand over or sell your business because they are facing legal challenges due to their dependency-related decisions.

More so, the beneficiary of the trust is not able to control the property that you put within the trust. And any creditors they have cannot access those assets either. This works to protect your assets.

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Call THE South Florida Estate Planning Attorneys – The Siegel Law Group

Addiction is a very complicated component of any family relationship, but there are tools and strategies available that can minimize the risks they present to your estate. With the help of our highly experienced States Planning Attorneys, we can guide you in creating a trust or other legal strategies that minimize the risk of your possessions being lost due to the actions of a person suffering from addiction risk.

Call our office at (561) 576-6306 to schedule a complimentary consultation, or submit our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.


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