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Idaho Estate Planning Helping a Child With Addictions

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I’ve been an estate planning attorney now for nearly 20 years. During this time, I have had numerous meetings with clients who are creating their own estate plan to take care of their needs while they are alive and the needs of their family and loved ones after they have passed away.

To protect themselves, they make sure they have a good durable power of attorney, living will, and power of attorney for health care. These documents are used by my client as a way of creating a plan that will protect them while they are alive if the need ever arises. In other words, if they become incapacitated, these documents are designed to provide specific instructions about who will be helping them and the kinds of help that they will be providing.

To provide for and protect their family and loved ones, my clients usually utilize life insurance, beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and other payable on death accounts. My clients also make sure they have a well-planned and written last will and testament and/or a trust or a series of trusts depending on what they are trying to accomplish or what the needs of their family may be.

The purpose of this article is to talk about how you can use your estate planning to help a child who has addictions. Usually the addictions that parents are concerned about are alcohol or drugs or other substances. The addictions could be other things that are also destructive such as gambling, or sexual addictions. Whatever the addictions are, you do have some choices as to what you can do that may be helpful for your children.

What Happens if You Don’t Have a Written Estate Plan?

Before we talk about what the choices are, however, we should first talk about what happens if you don’t have a written estate plan in place. What we are really talking about here is whether or not you have a written last will and testament or a trust of some sort. If you do not have these documents prepared, then you have an “intestate” estate. This is just a fancy word that says you don’t have a written will.

If you die without a will and you have an intestate estate, this means that the statutes in Idaho will specifically decide who will receive your money, property, and other assets. Typically, if you are married, all of your assets will go to your surviving spouse. However, if you are not married, or even if you are married but you own separate property at the time of your death, your children will specifically be entitled to receive some or all of your estate money and property.

The intestate statutes don’t care whether your children have addictions or not. They don’t care whether your children are good with money or not. They don’t even care if your children are disabled or have special needs. If they are your children, the intestate statutes will say that they are specifically entitled to some or all of your estate.

As you can see, if you are concerned about a child who has addictions, not having a written estate plan is really not a plan at all. This does not help your child, nor does it give you the ability to decide the best way to help your child.

Disinherit Your Child

If you do have a written estate plan you really have two choices on how you deal with or help your child who has addictions. The first choice is that you can specifically disinherit that child so that they don’t receive any money, property, or assets from your estate after you die.

The statutes in Idaho allow a parent to disinherit a child or really anyone else they choose. In some instances, parents who love their children who have addictions, realize that giving nothing to that child which would help promote their addictions would be far better than allowing them to have money or property from your estate that would support their addictions. It’s for this reason that I have helped some parents who have chosen to disinherit their children from their estate.

This is not an easy decision to make. It is especially hard for parents who love their children and want to see them succeed in life. However, in some instances it is the best decision. But, keep in mind, that it is not the only option that exists.

Utilize a Trust to Help Your Child

Another option that exists when it comes to your estate and how you can leave it to a child who has addictions is by using a trust. By using a trust, you are putting the money, property, and assets from your estate that would go to that child into a trust instead. A trustee is chosen who will use the trust money and property to benefit your child without ever giving it directly to your child.

For example, if your child needed help with paying the rent, the trustee would make that payment directly to the landlord. Additionally, if your child wanted to take a vacation, or make a car payment or pay for education, or buy groceries, or really do just about anything else the trustee could make those payments for the benefit of the child without ever giving money directly to the child. In this way, a loving parent can still provide for a child with addictions, without supporting or promoting those addictions through a direct inheritance.

Considering how to help a child with addictions as part of your estate planning is not an easy thing to do. Every parent and every child are unique. We have helped numerous parents make decisions of ways they can help their children without supporting or promoting their addictions. If you have questions or concerns about your own child suffering from addictions, we are confident that we can help you too.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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