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September is “National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month,” a national observance to raise awareness and educate Americans about mental and substance abuse disorders that inflict over 20 million Americans.  Over 6 million of those with substance abuse disorders are age 25 and under. Have you considered that this means millions of parents are forced to not only worry about the life of their child as they battle addiction, but also what will happen if they pass away while their child is still abusing substances?  

If you are a parent of a child with substance abuse issues, it can be imperative that you consult an estate planning attorney.  An experienced estate planning attorney can work with you to create a trust or other vehicle to help ensure that your child’s needs are met, but that the child is not given a lump sum inheritance check that can be used to feed an addiction.  Through a trust, you can designate how and when assets will be distributed.  You can select a trustee to manage the trust and help ensure that your wishes are carried out.  

An attorney can help ensure that the trustee is provided with enough guidance and discretion in making distributions from the trust so that your child may be supported in the same way as if you were still alive. This can include planning for how distributions will be made during times when the child is in recovery, and how they will be made, or not, in the event of a relapse.  The trust could provide, for example, that in the event of a relapse, the distributions will be made only to provide basic support to the child and contribute to a treatment plan for recovery.  Planning for these circumstances can give you comfort in knowing that your child will be cared for in the event of their death.

You should also consult the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  These organizations have a wealth of resources and information that can help you help your child and yourself.  

Our office is also here as a resource for you and your loved ones. If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, we can help you establish an estate plan that provides for him or her without fueling the addiction. Contact us today to schedule a meeting.