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Special Needs Planning: Helping Children with Addictions

Parents who have children with special needs often pursue special-needs trusts used to supplement disability benefits. But a growing number of adult children suffer with addiction and mental illnesses that isn't always covered by government benefits. Aging parents often wonder about special needs planning and different financial steps to take in case they aren't here to help. According to an article by the New York Times, a great starting point is to talk to an attorney who specializes in estate planning. Many parents opt for a special-purpose trust to give children with addiction problems or mental illness some security. In addition to the current opiate crisis in America, many young people suffer with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, alcoholism, narcissistic personality disorder or schizoid personality disorder. Not all young adults with mental illnesses receive approval for disability. In some cases, adult children depend on their parents for help with legal medications and addiction counseling.

Dealing with the emotional issues

Dealing with an adult child with mental illness or addiction stirs up a lot of emotional issues for parents. Terminally ill and aging parents are especially worried about how to help their child without crossing over the line to become an enabler. While a special-needs trust is ideal for children receiving government benefits, a special-purpose trust is different. Special-purpose trusts are especially helpful to the remaining siblings who don't want the burden of caring for a troubled sibling with addiction issues.

Putting restrictions in place

Special-purpose trusts allow you to place restrictions on the distributions. An attorney who specializes in estate plans helps you work through the technical problems to make the most of the trusts. Having flexibility in a plan is an important key. Some parents set up distribution advisers for the trusts. A distribution adviser has specialized training to assess how your child is doing. Some tips for parenting include writing exact criteria for distributions from the trust. For example, it could pay for necessary drug treatment or medications, housing or utilities.

Sadly, mental illness and addiction is a problem people struggle with for their entire lives. At the Law Offices of James C. Shields, we assist people with all their estate planning needs. For more information about special needs planning and special purpose trusts, please contact us.

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Law Offices of James C. Shields - Torrance Bankruptcy & Estate Planning Attorney
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