Trust administration in estate planning and the opioid crisis

In 2017, opioid-related overdoses were the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, and 12 percent of families acknowledged that they have a drug-dependent relative. In California and elsewhere in the country, this is becoming an issue of significant concern for families putting together estate plans. While families want to provide for the well-being of their family members, they are aware of the pitfalls of giving money directly to a substance abuser. The answer may be a fund that is set up as a trust. The trust administration is also an important component.

Leaving a person assets that can easily be turned into cash can be problematic for a person suffering from addiction. The temptation to feed a habit, particularly at a time of grief and increased stress, may be hard to resist. Establishing a trust that provides for recovery costs can be beneficial. Costs for therapy, rehabilitation, doctor’s bills and other expenses can be provided through a trust that does not provide cash directly to the addict. How the trust is administered may also impact the long-term success of the trust’s intent.

Many people think that naming a sibling or other family member as a trustee in such a case can be beneficial. Even close siblings or relatives can become estranged and grow hostile with each other when addiction is involved. In such an instance, a family may want an impartial and objective third party to administer the trust.

A family in such a situation in California may wish to seek the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney. A knowledgeable attorney may be able to advise his or her clients of options regarding setting up the trust for a drug-dependent family member. An experienced lawyer may also be able to answer questions regarding the trust administration in such a situation.

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