It's common for people to leave their assets to their children, but if you have a child who is dealing with chemical dependency issues, you might feel uneasy about listing him or her in your will as a beneficiary. The simple fact is that a large inheritance for someone with addiction issues could prove to be fatal, and that's not a thought that you want to remotely entertain as you approach the end of your life. You might not like the idea of writing this person out of your will, either, especially if you have the hope that he or she may one day get clean. A smart solution is to arrange to leave part of your estate to this person in trust. Here are some things that you'll need to establish.
Name A Trustee
You'll want to name a trustee for this money in your will. It makes sense for the trustee to be the executor of your estate. If you have two children, it's probable that you'd select the one who isn't struggling with chemical dependency to fulfill the role of executor, as you likely have more faith that he or she could do the job properly. As trustee, this person is responsible for keeping the money safe for the person who cannot have access to it at this point.
Stipulate The Steps To Complete
In your will, you can outline the steps that the person with chemical dependency issues must complete before he or she has the money. Your trustee can then monitor and enforce these steps. In your scenario, you want the person to only have access to the money once he or she has demonstrated a track record of sobriety. There are many steps that you can list. For example, you might want the person to have completed a drug addiction program, to have maintained sobriety for one year, to have an active sponsor, and to agree to random drug tests whenever the trustee wishes to test him or her.
Arrange A Payment Schedule
While you might be thinking about giving the person his or her share of your assets upon meeting the above steps, you should be wary about this person receiving a lump sum. Even with a history of sobriety, the urge to use could return when the person has a lot of money. Another idea is to arrange a payment schedule. For example, the trustee could give the person a certain sum of money at regular intervals — provided, of course, that he or she continues to meet the requirements.
For more information, talk to a probate lawyer.