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Letter of Intent

You have been with your child through every step, twist and turn of life. Everywhere you go, you carry his or her habits and needs, wishes and plans, with you. When your child has special needs, you also keep crucial details on medical, behavioral and educational requirements.

If something were to happen to you, all that knowledge could be lost. Your child needs the support that knowledge represents, especially in the face of life’s biggest changes. A letter of intent can help you communicate important things about your child to any potential future caregiver, including their specific needs, abilities and interests.

A letter of intent is intended to assist those caring for your child. It is not a legal document, but a special needs planning attorney may be of assistance as you write one. Among other contributions, he or she can help make sure that the letter meshes well with the rest of your estate plan. The attorney’s years of related experience can be relied upon to help craft a letter that communicates your wishes clearly and effectively.

A letter of intent should be detailed and comprehensive, containing everything that a trustee or caregiver should know to provide for your child’s special needs. This may include your hopes and desires for your child, practical advice about their preferences, and important information about their medical history.

In drafting a letter of intent, feel free to speak frankly and in careful detail. Every specific will help caregivers step smoothly into your child’s life, avoiding the need to learn all requirements and preferences by trial, error and stressful effort.

No detail is too small. Because levels of disability vary, it’s important to include day-to-day specifics, not just the major documented facts, of your child’s life. The ability to contribute to family life builds self-esteem, so if your child can help with the dishes, put it in the letter. If he loves to clear the table, mention that. If folding clothes frustrates her, it’s important that future caretakers have that information up front.

A thorough letter of intent should contain the following:

  • Contact information and family history for your child’s extended family, including births, marriages and something special and personal that each family member shares with your child
  • Medical information, including a full history, current doctors and any medications
  • Any residential, dietary or personal care needs that your child may have
  • Educational history and aspirations, including regular classes, special classes, special schools, related services and your plans to fund your child’s education
  • Guidance for employment or community participation, including types of work your child may enjoy
  • A typical day in your child’s life, including enjoyable social and recreational activities as well as likes and dislikes in food, chores, books, television and music
  • Social relationships that are important to your child
  • Behavior management programs that are being used currently, and any that have not worked well in the past
  • Available resources for people with disabilities in the local community
  • Final arrangements, including any prearrangements you have made regarding funeral and burial

Our special needs planning attorneys can assist you in drafting a thorough letter of intent as part of a comprehensive life plan for your child with special needs.

Download a sample outline (PDF)