These days, many people are struggling with a substance-abuse problem, living on the streets, or suffering from mental disability – or all three simultaneously. Many families want to assist family members struggling like that, but families are unsure how to offer that assistance, given that money might hurt more than help. Especially inheritances, which can come in one lump sum, could be squandered on self-destructive behavior or exploited by street “friends.”
If you have a family member facing these kinds of challenges, please consider consulting with an estate planning attorney or us immediately. There are several ways to provide money or an inheritance to help your loved one but still protect her from unwise spending.
The Value of Estate Planning Legal Documents
A trust, or a will that contains trust provisions within it, can appoint a trusted person to manage the money for your family member’s benefit. Those documents can detail permissible spending purposes and treatment options and provide a schedule for how often money is released. You can also earmark funds for a professional caregiver to manage your family member’s recovery, with incentives to encourage a healthier way to live.
Delay is not a good idea, though. If you leave behind no will or trust, a court must follow the law of your state rather than honor your wishes. That would likely mean your family member would inherit with no restrictions. Or, if your will or trust doesn’t contain protective provisions, the result might be just as bad. If you have estate planning documents, check whether you did them within five years. If longer ago than that, your documents may be out of date. Call us or another attorney with estate planning expertise to ensure that your plan is properly set up to care for your at-risk family member.
The Importance of Writing a Letter of Instructions for Your Loved One
We would also be glad to help you write your letter of instruction, in which you explain your wishes simply and in your own words. This letter can also include vital information to guide whomever you have named to be your executor or trustee. The letter should inform those people as to where you keep important papers like birth certificates, financial records, and passwords – but be careful to store this document safely because it contains confidential information.
It would also be great to have a heart-to-heart conversation with the at-risk family member if that’s at all possible. Families who make peace with each other build fonder family memories. We, lawyers, love to see that happen. If you have questions or would like to discuss your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 513-771-2444.