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Dealing with family dysfunction through estate planning

While everyone has failures and shortcomings, we usually find a way to forgive our loved ones and move forward in the relationship. However, in some cases, the flaws of our family members can have long-term effects that impact us and make them untrustworthy. When it's time to draw up a will and work on estate planning, a relative's faults need to be considered, especially in more serious cases, such as substance abuse issues, gambling addictions or criminal activity. Funding the poor choices of a child or close relative is not a responsible way to plan for the future.

Instead of enabling the behavior, people may choose to leave the person with the issue completely out of their will. No one has a legal right to be included in someone's estate plan, except a spouse. In some cases, leaving them out of the estate plan might be the best option.

Another option is to provide for them through a trust. A third party, or trustee, can manage the trust for them and handle their finances. It would only enable a person with a gambling or drug addiction if they suddenly inherited a bunch of money. The trustee can help the person with daily obligations, such as food or utilities, without funding their problem behavior. The trust could even include financial motivation for staying clean and sober or away from the casinos.

Family dynamics can affect drawing up a will and setting up an estate. An estate planning lawyer might be able to help clients with suggestions on dealing with self-destructive behavior of a loved one.

Source: NWI Times, "ESTATE PLANNING: When a loved one's faults need to be recognized", Christopher W. Yugo, November 26, 2013

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