Setting Up Trusts for Drug Addicts

Often while creating estate plans, parents struggle with determining how to leave their assets to children who perhaps are not responsible enough to handle them. In many cases, leaving money for children with no strings attached is simply not a good idea. A recent article in The Star-Ledger discusses options for parents facing this difficult situation.


The best way to leave conditional sums of money to irresponsible heirs is through a trust. A trust allows you to appoint someone — a trustee — to manage the trust assets and make appropriate distributions. When you draft the trust documents, you can specify for what purposes money can be distributed.

While it would be difficult to condition the distribution of funds on the provision that your child discontinues all drug use, you could provide that the money may be used for other, more constructive endeavors. For example, you could state that the funds may only be used for tuition at a four-year university or trade school.

Another option is to create the trust so that your child will get a small monthly allowance. Although this does not condition what the money may be spent on, small amounts help to ensure that your child doesn’t quickly spend his entire inheritance on illegal substances within a short period of time after initially receiving it.