In the Boston Globe, on Sunday, February 11, 2024 an article titled “Boom in youth gambling in Mass. fueled by online sports betting apps” (Chris Serres) discussed the disturbing spike in gambling by young people. In that article, “nearly 40% of men ages 18 to 49 have at least one account with an online sports betting service…18% bet money meant for a financial obligation…38% said they gambled more than they should have.”
While Massachusetts has a 21 year old baseline age, New Hampshire is only 18 years old. While baseline ages are helpful, we know there are always “ways around this.” Kids as young as 14 years old are running up gambling debts and seeking counseling.
When I speak with my clients about trust provisions, I often ask them about a “Special Rules” section. Such a section provides that if a successor trustee reasonably knows about this behavior (either directly or via increased requests for funds) they may decline that request, or provide payment directly to a third-party (landlord, therapist, treatment program, etc.).
These provisions are not meant to be punitive. A few years ago, we could never have envisioned the wide availability and variety of gambling opportunities. It starts small and in fun “betting $25 on how many times coverage will cut to a celebrity girlfriend/boyfriend, is the next pitch a ball or a strike, etc.” and it can get out of hand very quickly (chasing losses).
As is the overarching theme of estate planning, this is about protecting your beneficiaries from gaining access to your hard-earned assets to pay such debts, protecting them from getting into trouble, and ensuring that the money is used to provide financial security for family, friends, nonprofits, as YOU intended.