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Estate planning is more complex with an heir who has an addiction

Along with many others across the country, some people here in Boston have ended up addicted to opioids. The odds are that a large number of them ended up with the problem after going to a doctor for an injury. Over time, the addiction took over, and family members and friends do what they can to help, but it may not be enough.

Perhaps this story sounds familiar to you because you have a close loved one, maybe a child, in this position. Maybe the addiction spreads to other prescription medications and/or illegal drugs. While you continue to try to help now, you also want to see how you can help after your death.

You don't want to leave this person money outright

As much as you want to leave your loved one an inheritance, you fear that any money you leave outright will go to feed his or her addiction. Unfortunately, you may be right. You may feel as though simply not leaving any inheritance to your loved one is your only choice. Fortunately, estate planning has several ways to help provide for this person after your death without just giving them ready access to funds.

You can use a trust

A trust could solve your dilemma. Using a trust keeps your loved one from readily gaining access to the assets you want to leave for him or her. Specifically, an incentive trust could provide you what you need. This type of trust requires the beneficiary to meet certain requirements in order to receive distributions.

You could require your loved one to check into a rehabilitation center, attend addiction counseling and take other measures to "get clean" before receiving any money from the trust. In addition, you could actually direct the trustee to pay for the rehabilitation and counseling efforts. You could require him or her to provide proof to the trustee as well. You may also include routine drug tests as part of the terms of the trust.

You want to get it right

In order to make sure that your wishes receive the appropriate attention, you want to make sure that your documentation meets with all of the applicable legal requirements. If your trust is not drafted and executed correctly, it may not stand up to the scrutiny of the court. If that happens, all of your hard work and good intentions might not be enough to protect your loved one from him- or herself.

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