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Protecting assets and beneficiaries with a trust

If a beneficiary has a substance abuse problem, it may be necessary to design a trust that takes this fact into account. Parents and grandparents in Florida must first choose what type of role the trust will play. For instance, it could simply be a means of providing resources to help support the basic needs of the beneficiary. It could also be a tool used to help pay for rehab or other recovery efforts.

It is important that the trustee understands that an addict is generally not going to change his or her ways in a short period of time. This is true even if the individual goes to rehab and truly wants to get sober, and it is not uncommon for addicts to relapse multiple times in their lives. Typically, recovery programs help people understand why they are addicted and how to avoid triggers that could lead to a relapse.

These programs can also help individuals find work or learn skills that can lead to employment in the future. It may be beneficial to design a trust in a way that rewards a beneficiary for meeting benchmarks such as passing a drug test or finding a job. Ideally, these rewards will be something other than money as it could be spent on drugs or alcohol.

If a family member has a drug or alcohol problem, a trust may be an important part of a person's estate plan. This is because trusts may be able to tie an inheritance to overcoming the problem or at least making progress toward that goal. In the meantime, money or other assets are protected from creditor claims, lawsuits or from being spent on controlled substances.

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