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Troubled children can be helped through careful planning

Part of the great responsibility of creating a personalized estate plan is considering the needs, strengths and weaknesses of your heirs. If you are like many parents, you may feel trapped while creating an estate plan, not knowing how to effectively and fairly create a plan if one or more of your children suffer from substance abuse or gambling addiction. Fortunately, there are some ways to provide for the future as a loving parent wants to do, without feeling that you are unnecessarily enabling your child.

It may be difficult, especially if you have multiple children, some of whom do not struggle with addictions. As a loving parent, you must first recognize that it is not an act of love to give your child easy access to funds that could bankroll their struggles. It is also not fair to hold all of your children to a similar standard if they do not all have destructive tendencies.

For a child who struggles with destructive tendencies, you might consider using a trust that is built with special-purpose wording. With such a trust, the recipient can be required to meet certain criteria before they receive any distributions from the trust. Practically speaking, this might mean demonstrating clean, sober living for a period of months before gaining any access, submitting to drug tests and other forms of tough love. You can also create relatively low limits on how large a payout the child can receive at any one time.

Loving a child who makes destructive choices is never easy, but that is part of the burden and privilege of being a parent. If you believe that a specially designed trust may be the answer to your dilemma, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you create a loving and firm solution.

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