Mental illness, addiction may impact your estate planning

| Dec 11, 2020 | Estate Planning

Any time you’re dealing with your estate plan, you need to think about your beneficiaries and what you’re leaving behind for them. If you have relatives or children with mental illnesses or addictions, then it’s vital to approach estate planning while discussing those topics and how they could impact inheritances.

It is common for a parent to want to divide assets equally among their children or their beneficiaries. A person with no children might want to leave behind their assets to younger siblings or relatives. Before you split up your assets evenly among all the beneficiaries, it’s important that you consider their specific situations. Someone with a mental health disorder may need more financial support to get appropriate care. Someone with an addiction might need extra protections to make sure they’re not spending their inheritance down on illicit substances.

What kinds of questions should you ask before deciding on how to divide your assets?

Before you decide on how you’ll be dividing your assets, it’s necessary to ask yourself a few questions, such as:

  • Does the beneficiary make positive decisions in their life without guidance?
  • If a beneficiary has an active addiction, could leaving them assets put them in harm’s way?
  • Is there anyone out of your beneficiaries who is not prepared to handle an inheritance?
  • What can you do to minimize the stress of receiving an inheritance in cases where addictions or mental illness may impact the beneficiary’s reactions?

Don’t worry about bringing up these concerns to your attorney. They know that these are important factors that could influence your estate plan and need to know if you have concerns about any of your beneficiaries. They may have a number of helpful tips or tricks to protect the assets that you’re leaving behind and to make sure your beneficiaries still have what they need.

For example, setting up a trust with strict requirements may be best for someone with an addiction, whereas someone with a mental health concern may need financial support that is dedicated to ongoing care. Your attorney can help you prepare your estate, so it meets the needs of your beneficiaries as intended.