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Estate planning: A tool in the battle against substance abuse

Planning an estate can have many facets to cover many beneficiaries and many situations in Michigan. Trusts can be put in place to help provide for handicapped or mentally disabled relatives. There is a third category where trusts may be the right option. This would include addicted or mentally ill children that a family wants to provide for in their estate planning.

A trust enables a family to bequeath money to a child but have it in the control of a third party. The trust can be set up to incentivize a child to seek help for his or her addiction or mental health issue. Rather than being punitive if a child fails a drug test, for example, a trust can be set up to provide incentives for getting help through therapy, doctors and other treatment options.

Some families setting up wills and trusts may plan to leave the bulk of their assets to one child who doesn’t suffer from a substance abuse or mental health condition with the understanding that the child will care for his or her sibling. The problem with that is that it is only an understanding, and there may be no strings attached to provide for unforeseen circumstances. A trust resolves that issue.

A family in Michigan dealing with the difficult situation of parenting an addicted or mentally ill child may benefit from seeking the advice and counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney. A knowledgeable attorney may be familiar with treatment options available and have some ideas of how to incorporate them into a trust to successfully and safely provide for the child who suffers from substance abuse. A lawyer can also be a calming unemotional presence around what can be a very emotional issue.