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A trust may be a better option for a child with an addiction

If the opioid epidemic is any indication of the number of people who have substance abuse problems, then numerous families here in Colorado and across the country suffer from an addiction. If your child is one of them, then you may do what you can to help. Even if your child wants to get clean, it isn't always easy.

When you start the estate planning process, you may wonder how to leave your child an inheritance without risking it going to purchase drugs or alcohol. The last thing you want is to contribute to your son's or daughter's addiction. What can you do?

A trust could provide the answer

A trust allows you to control how and when your child receives distributions as part of his or her inheritance. However, it may not be a good idea to simply take a generic trust and change the names. Instead, you may want to understand and include certain language specific to your heir's addiction and anticipated recovery that the trustee can refer to, such as the following:

  • The pre-contemplation stage occurs when your child is not yet ready to move into recovery.
  • During the contemplation stage, your son or daughter has decided to consider quitting.
  • When he or she enters the preparation stage, small changes in behavior begin.
  • Entering the actions stage means your child takes active steps to change the addictive behavior.
  • When your child reaches the maintenance stage, he or she develops the coping strategies needed in order to remain sober.

This theoretical model also takes into account the possibility that a relapse could occur, and it often does. Understanding this can help your trustee identify the times when your son or daughter is having difficulties.

How the trust can help your child

Instead of only rewarding your child in some way when he or she remains drug or alcohol-free, the trust could also provide the resources necessary to help overcome a relapse. In addition to providing resources to help with treatment, your trust could also outline what types of items the trustee could pay for in order to help your child move forward with his or her life even in your absence.

Preparing this or any other type of trust requires knowledge of Colorado law and an understanding of how trusts work. In order to help make sure you get it right for your child, it would be wise to consult with an experienced and compassionate estate planning attorney.

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