Illicit and prescription drugs and alcohol fuel trust, estate and elder financial abuse disputes. Addiction fires emotional and financial havoc on families. Parents of chemically addicted children grapple with anger and guilt.
We at Hackard Law, a California based law firm, regularly litigate contested matters in trust, estate and elder financial abuse disputes. These contests seem to fall into seven primary categories:
- Abused beneficiaries;
- Elder Financial Abuse;
- Trust Litigation;
- Estate Litigation;
- Life Insurance Beneficiary Litigation;
- Trust Accounting; and
- Will Contests.
We’ve seen how drugs & alcohol addictions can ignite destructive and disastrous influences in every one of the seven categories. It is often said that addiction is a family disease. I think the observation is true. Drug and substance abuse addiction impact a family’s finances, physical health and psychological well-being.
Clinical care facilities like Behavioral Health have great insights into psychological makeup of families suffering from the abuse. This insight is worth reading. Behavioral Health identifies six family roles that evolve from a family member’s abuse. Among them:
- “The Enabler: … The enabler takes care of all of the things that the addict has left undone, including taking care of finances, … and making justifications for the addict in social and business situations. The enabler is frequently in denial about the severity of the addict’s problem and will continually make excuses for him or her instead of getting them professional help ….
- The Hero: This role is generally assumed by an older child in the family who overachieves and appears confident and serious. Heroes take on responsibilities in the home that seemingly exceed their developmental stage, and often assume parental roles. The hero is obsessed with perfection, so it makes the role increasingly difficult to maintain as addiction progresses and responsibilities continue to mount.
- The Scapegoat: This is the child in the family who habitually misbehaves and displays defiant tendencies in the face of authority. These individuals often get into trouble in school and at home. As these children move toward adulthood, many get into trouble with the law as well. These behaviors are reflective of a poisonous and chaotic atmosphere in the house.
- The Mascot: In an uncomfortable home environment, some individuals assume the role of the mascot and use humor as a coping mechanism. The mascot is aware that his or her comedy may be bringing a momentary sense of relief to the family and will continue to maintain this role in order to achieve balance and comfort in the home.
- The Lost Child: The person in this role is isolated from other members in the family and has trouble developing relationships as a result. The lost child has difficulty in social situations and often engages in fantasy play to distract themselves both emotionally and physically from the negative home environment.
- The Addict: Many chronic substance abusers feel great shame, guilt, and remorse about the pain and distress they’ve caused their families. However, there are also many addicts who do not want to cease their substance abuse. This choice can cause great anger and resentment throughout the family.”
Our particular experience in estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation usually focuses on the adverse financial effects generated by the actions or inaction of the chronic substance abuser. Seeking to overturn trusts and estates changed because of undue influence wielded against a vulnerable parent is a near constant in our litigation practice. Pre-death property transfers as well as estate and trust property transfers come under a spotlight.
At Hackard Law we work to assist abused trust and estate beneficiaries. We focus our geographic practice in California’s large urban areas, including Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and Sacramento counties. We’re happy to speak with abused beneficiaries who want to know more about their rights. Call us at 916 313-3030.