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Estate planning elephant in the room: loved one’s opioid addiction

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2017 | Estate Planning, Firm News

We’ve discussed many varied topics on our blog at the Little Rock law firm of Robertson, Oswalt, Nony & Associates, but one singular and sensitive discussion focus has thus far eluded treatment on our website.

And that is this: a loved one’s opioid addiction and its implications for family members engaged in estate planning.

The reason for that omission is quite simple. Until relatively recently, the subject matter hasn’t emerged across the country in any sustained high-profile fashion.

That has certainly changed, though, with widespread American addiction to drugs — either prescribed or unlawfully obtained — like morphine and oxycodone now being deemed by many law enforcers, regulators and medical experts as a flat-out national crisis.

Arkansas is reportedly affected in an outsized way. The state’s Medical Board recently approved new draft regulations calling for tighter prescription controls on opioids. One board member says Arkansas is a “perfect storm for opioid prescribing.”

The reality of addiction understandably does intrude in the estate planning realm, with a loved family member’s drug-related problems often throwing a wrench into estate administration strategies regarding inheritances, bequests and related matters.

How can that be handled?

Obviously, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the legion of families across the country dealing with the problem. Some families opt to treat an addicted heir in the same way as other children. That carries risks, of course. An inheritance could be squandered. A health-threatening habit could be supported by released funds.

Conversely, disinheriting a loved one with an overwhelming addiction “could leave the addict destitute and not able to seek treatment,” notes one recent media article spotlighting the problem.

The answers to hard questions concerning opioid addiction understandably don’t come quickly or easily. Obviously, though, the problem that many American families face concerning addiction shouldn’t be understated or avoided in any discussion with an attorney.

A proven estate planning lawyer routinely works with all types of families, and sincerely wants to help them foster outcomes that promote best interests to the fullest extent possible.

No individual should ever be hesitant to bring up any family-related issue with their attorney. That professional will respond with empathy and strong efforts to help, including with referral recommendations that might be beneficial.


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