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You are your child’s most important asset. You’re the walking encyclopedia of your child’s experiences, history, wishes and habits. In the event you’re no longer able to care for them, a letter of intent (LOI) will communicate valuable information about your child as well as your vision of their future.

Creating a letter of intent

While the LOI isn’t a legally binding document, it can serve as a syllabus or guidebook to guardians and caregivers. At a very minimum, your LOI should include information about family and medical history as well as the following: 

  • General overview: Paint your vision of your loved one’s future, explain how their life has been to date and provide other general thoughts a caregiver or guardian would find valuable.
  • Daily schedule: Make sure to list your child’s favorite events, daily routines, and activities as well as the events they dislike.
  • Food: Does your child love hot dogs with ketchup, but hate mustard? Highlight your child’s favorite foods, how those foods should be prepared, the foods they dislike and any food allergies. 
  • Education: Detail your desire for your child’s educational future as well as their educational experiences.
  • Benefits received: List out all of the government benefits your child receives and any important recertification dates.
  • Employment: Describe the different types of work your child may enjoy.
  • Residential environment: Do you prefer your child live in the same community they live now? Make sure to explain your child’s ideal living arrangements and other related information. 
  • Social environment: What types of social activities does your child enjoy? Should they be given spending money? It’s important to include social information in the LOI.
  • Religious environment: Specify your child’s religious affiliation as well as any places of worship they attend. You may also find it valuable to list any clergy familiar with your family and child.
  • Behavior management: Include any type of behavior management programs that have had a positive impact on your child as well as any unsuccessful programs.
  • Other information: Consider incorporating any other type of information to guide the individual responsible for caring for your child.

Taking the next steps

While no one can ever replace you, the LOI is a critical step toward ensuring the wellbeing and care of your loved one. Once the LOI is completed, make sure you sign and date the document and:

  1. Share it with family members, guardians, caregivers or other interested parties.
  2. Encourage family members to ask questions and discuss any concerns they may have.
  3. Revisit and update the LOI as your child grows to keep it current.
  4. Use the LOI as the basis for special needs financial planning to bring your vision of the future to life.

Contact a specially trained financial professional for assistance and guidance along the journey.