September is National Recovery Month sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHA). The month recognizes that substance abuse is an illness and that millions of people, via effective treatment, can and do recover from substance abuse disorders. Families with a member who struggles with a substance abuse disorder can face any number of challenges. For instance, have you considered how to put an estate plan in place when you have a child with a substance abuse disorder? 

Being such a parent can be an emotionally painful balancing act of wanting to provide for your child after your death without enabling the substance abuse. Some people may be under the impression that cutting the child out of the estate plan, so money will not be used to purchase substances, may be the only option. There are, however, estate planning options which can allow parents to both provide for their child and regulate the use of money from their estate.

One option may be to create a trust with a trustee appointed for your child’s lifetime who will follow explicit terms, crafted by you, regarding what disbursements from the trust can be used for. Due to the unique emotional components of a substance abuse disorder, it can be very important to choose a neutral trustee, rather than someone like the child’s sibling, who may be much less likely to succumb to any emotional pressure to make disbursements which are not in the child’s best-interest. The remainder of the estate can then pass to the child’s estate upon his or her passing.

Another option may be the creation of a separate trust solely to pay for treatment services. The selection of a trustee for this trust should take into consideration the potential trustee’s ability to interact with rehabilitation facilities and to negotiate and make payments, as well as, conduct monitoring of the child’s rehabilitation progress. The ultimate desire for most parents is for their child to recover, either of these types of trusts can include milestone disbursements, such as when a child reaches one-year of sobriety.

Our office is here to help those families looking to help a loved one struggling with addiction. A properly drafted estate plan can offer peace of mind that a child with a substance abuse disorder is provided for with the appropriate safeguards in place. Please contact our office today to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum.