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Addiction complications can lead to estate litigation at times

For years, the main reason many New York residents would undertake estate planning was to safeguard their assets from taxes. In the past few years, there may be another pressing need to ensure that one is not vulnerable to estate litigation, and that is the issue of addiction. There are some steps that one may be able to take in order to plan for how this sensitive problem may be addressed.

When it comes to addiction to opioids, no family is immune any longer. Addiction is not confined to the lower classes as almost anyone could be susceptible to this alarming and growing social issue. While disinheriting, a family member who struggles with addiction may seem like a good candidate for disinheritance. In reality, this may only exacerbate the problem and make the estate more vulnerable to legal challenges. Instead, there may be other solutions that can ensure that the family member is provided for while also safeguarding assets from being used to feed the addiction.

Some may decide to leave a smaller bequest to an addicted heir, though this could lead to that heir challenging that decision through litigation. Others may leave the bequest in the care of another selected heir. This may not work as planned if the heir decides not to comply with the instructions or if the addicted heir challenges that decision as well. This may be a reason why many choose to set up a trust with specific guidelines and conditions that must be met in order for the heir to receive his or her share of the estate.

If this option is the most attractive, then one may also choose to name a trust provider as well as a trust advisor. These individuals work in tandem to ensure that assets are used wisely and that the addicted heir is sincerely seeking treatment and working towards recovery. New York residents who want to ensure that loved ones are provided for in the best manner possible may seek the input of a seasoned estate planning attorney in order to avoid the possibility of estate litigation efforts from any disgruntled individuals.

Source: wealthmanagement.com, "The Opioid Crisis' Impact on Wealth Planning", Kevin L. Johns, Dec. 5, 2017

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