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By Stephanie C. Smith

Deciding what to do with your assets after you pass away can involve a series of difficult decisions. These decisions are made even more difficult when one of your loved ones struggles with addiction or mental health issues.

Clients often ask us how they can include loved ones facing such struggles in their estate plan, while protecting the assets being passed on. They fear that if they leave assets outright to such loved ones, the assets will quickly be gone. They worry about uncontrolled spending, unscrupulous people preying upon their loved ones, poor judgment, and relapses. Clients don’t wish to exclude their family members or friends from their estate plan, but don’t know the best way to include them. Their family members are not incapacitated or determined to have “special needs”, but also are not well-suited to receiving a sum of money outright.

Fortunately, we can prepare Wills and Trusts which are designed to hold some or all of the assets designated for such loved ones in trust, for their benefit. A Trustee can be appointed to make regular distributions in a particular amount or percentage to or for the benefit of the loved one. A Trustee can also have discretion to draw funds from the Trust for various reasons important to the client, such as payment of household, medical, or educational expenses.

Through thoughtful discussions with our clients and careful drafting of documents, we are able to help clients include all of their loved ones in their plans, and to have peace of mind in doing so.