Protecting Your Wealth When Heirs Struggle with Addiction
Protect your family legacy from the disease of addiction. Find out the right steps to keep your family’s finances safe and how to help your loved ones.
The information presented on this page is a general overview and is offered here as a comprehensive resource. At Ampelis Recovery, our programs are customized and tailored to the individual’s needs. Specific details below that cover treatment protocols may not reflect the protocols used for our clients.
If you would like to learn more about Ampelis Recovery and our customized programs for professional men, please do not hesitate to reach out.
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What is Addiction?
Addiction occurs when a person develops an obsession or dependence on drugs or alcohol. A person can be addicted to essentially anything. However, drugs and alcohol have naturally addictive chemicals that increase the risks and dangers of dependency.
Factors in developing addiction include financial status, genetics, environment, careers, and more. Addiction is a disease as opposed to an active choice. Viewing and treating addiction as a disease improves the quality of care and client receptiveness.1
- Addiction disrupts several bodily functions such as the immune system, muscles, bone, digestive, etc. This disruption can lead to reduced mobility, flawed thinking, and an increased risk of illness. Additionally, long-term drug use can cause irreparable damage to the body.
- The physical changes in addiction can lower self-confidence and make continued drug use more likely.2 There is no end to the negative effects of prolonged drug and alcohol use on the body.3
- Natural hormones and chemicals carefully regulate emotions and moods in the body. Our body utilizes several systems to sustain a certain level of cognitive function and awareness. Substances and alcohol disrupt the hormone balance we need to functions. This disruption leads to depression, confusion, and more.
- Clients with mental illnesses experience worsening symptoms due to alcohol and drug use. Alcohol and many commonly abused substances are depressants, and the act of getting high can lead to dopamine burnout. After a period, a client may be unable to feel happiness, sleep, or feel positive without drug use. When these feelings occur, they signal that dependency has set in. The inability to feel happiness greatly impairs quality of life and increases the risk of suicidal thoughts.4
The Impact of Addiction
Dependency left untreated invariably ruins all aspects of life. Here’s how.
- For the average person, substance use is expensive. It can cost hundreds to thousands per month to maintain a drug or alcohol habit. Plus, substance use makes it hard to hold on to meaningful employment for long. On top of these factors are any accrued fees and expenses related to drunk driving, public intoxication, etc.
- Clients that have substantial wealth may suffer more significant losses due to ruined reputations, poor business decisions, etc. It can take years to crawl out of financial ruin and repair one’s life. Typically, wealth management is not a priority once drug use begins.
- Drugs and alcohol dependency place undue stress on any relationship. It is also hard to form a meaningful bond when preoccupied with getting high or drunk. Drug dependency also causes irritability, disagreeableness, and other unwanted mental states that can make it hard to be around.
- Small arguments can become large, emotionally draining ordeals, and the chance of making rash choices increases. The other side is a toxic co-dependent relationship built on drug use. Couples who experience dual drug use and dependency may require separation and therapy to overcome their addictions. 5
Excessive Time Spent on Substancess
- Drug and alcohol dependency takes time, such as time spent obtaining the substance, ingesting the substance, and sobering up. The process can take hours or days. Often, the time spent doing drugs cuts into social responsibilities, relationships, and goals. Long-term dependency also lowers life expectancy. Of all the things that addiction takes and doesn’t give back, time is by far the most important.
Privacy of Legacy
- Substance dependency can destroy the reputation of a client and their family. Many people view a person struggling with addiction in a negative life, resulting in fewer job opportunities and a smaller social circle. Often, times this can lead to anger and resentment from family members. For example, a child of a parent with addiction may be bullied for their parent’s actions. In this way, addiction comes between relationships and positive social interactions.
Strategies for Protecting your Wealth
At some point, the parent of a person struggling with an addiction will need to draw the line between enabling and helping. This aspect is especially true for families with immense wealth and security. Wealth management is important for heirs as well. Being able to protect your wealth from an heir or to change heirs can be lifesaving. Giving substantial wealth to someone with substance dependency can worsen their habit. If a person with dependency becomes untethered from financial restraints, they may delve further into their habit and possibly lead to overdose.
For these reasons and more, wealth management is an often overlooked but crucial step towards drug recovery. Here are some ways to protect your wealth.
Estate Planning s
- Estate planning establishes a legal outline for how to handle bank accounts, assets, guardianships, and more when incapacitated. Incapacitation includes comas, injury, traumatic episodes, and any situation where a person is unable to handle their affairs. Proper estate planning requires an experienced lawyer or estate planner. 6
- A trust is used to protect a person’s finances in times of incapacitation or death. Trusts can be used to set up allowances, automatic bill payments, and inheritances. Only people who have been assigned trustee rights can access the trust, and banks often require trust paperwork to be signed in person as an added layer of security.
Trustee- Trust Administration
- Once a trust is set up, it requires oversight by an administrator also known as a benefactor. Trust benefactors are often appointed by the family but may also be appointed by the court. They are responsible for ensuring the outline and purposes of the trust are fulfilled. This responsibility can include tax payments, inheritance payments, and more. Benefactors can be removed from their position if they fail to uphold the rules of a trust or are seen to be working in their own interests.7
- Most trusts ensure a trustee can’t also be the beneficiary to lower the chance of financial fraud.
- One of the best ways to practice wealth management is to encourage drug treatment as soon as possible. It is not always an easy conversation to have, but the sooner a client seeks recovery, the better. A trustee or beneficiary may be removed from a trust if drug use becomes a problem, and this factor can even be written into the trust as an added layer of wealth management. Lastly, unless explicitly stated, most trustees are unable to appoint additional administrators and certainly not without amending the trust with a lawyer, thus lowering the chance that the control over a trust can be usurped.
- Getting a client into treatment can take the form of an intervention, a stay in a rehabilitation clinic, or a conversation with a spiritual leader. When dealing with wealth, it is important not to fund the dependency for any reason. Clients that come from wealthy backgrounds may beg or manipulate others to gain access to the funds. Dependency, as a disease, changes the brain and priorities. A client in active addiction may stop at no ends to obtain more drugs. Providing a client with excess money further fuels their addiction and can lead to overdose. It’s a tough decision and at times may feel like you are abandoning that person but getting them into recovery is the only way to help them.
Types of Trust
Here are trusts you can use to protect your family legacy.
- Clients with dependency issues make brash decisions. Long-term drug and alcohol use can impair their thinking and ability to consider consequences. However, a spendthrift trust establishes a trust administrator for the trustee. The administrator has the final say on all money decisions.
- From a legal standpoint, the finances in a spendthrift trust do not belong to the beneficiary. Because of this fact, the trustee or beneficiary has limited access and cannot abuse the funds. Abuse includes losing the funds to gambling, creditors, or overspending. Spendthrift trusts are a way of ensuring that long-term if not life-long financial stability is possible.
- Incentive trusts work by ensuring the beneficiary meets specific criteria. For example, to receive monthly allowances, the beneficiary must maintain their health care or maintain steady employment for a specified period. An incentive trusts only pays out if the requirements are met.
- While incentive trusts don’t always prevent further drug use, they guarantee that family finances aren’t a contributing factor.
- Addiction trusts are similar to incentive trusts, but the rules are always geared towards preventing drug use. Addiction trusts may require a beneficiary to maintain sobriety, attend meetings, and make positive changes in their life. If a beneficiary doesn’t adhere to the rules, then they receive reduced allowances or lose access to the trust altogether.8