Trusts Law

Guidelines for a Letter of Intent for a Special Needs Trust

Key Takeaways:

  • A letter of intent for a special needs trust is a non-legal document where you give valuable advice to your child’s caregiver about your child’s unique needs.
  • You should write the letter clearly and accurately to ensure your child has an opportunity to thrive and gain independence.
  • The letter of intent is a living document that should change as your child’s preferences and needs change.

You finished your child’s special needs trust. So you feel confident that they will be financially secure after you die. But are you sure the person who will care for your child has the information they need? A letter of intent ensures your child’s caregiver knows how to care for them when you’re gone.

This article explains the letter of intent for a special needs trust. Special needs planning is complex. Consider contacting an estate planning attorney in your state for help. They can ensure your planning meets your goals and your child’s needs. They can also advise you on writing a letter of intent.

What Is a Letter of Intent?

A special needs trust (SNT) is an essential legal document for your special needs child. It allows you to ensure your child has the financial resources they need to survive. The trust also protects your child’s eligibility for government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

A special needs letter of intent (LOI) accompanies a special needs trust. It’s sometimes called a letter of instruction or a letter of guidance. An LOI is a non-legal document that can be more important than the special needs trust. It’s your chance to give valuable advice to your child’s caregiver about your child’s unique needs.

What Should I Remember When I Write My Letter of Intent?

There are some things you should keep in mind when writing an LOI. Your goal is a clear and accurate letter. That will help the caregiver give your child a life of growth and independence. Following are some points to remember:

  • The LOI is not a legally binding document. It’s a set of guidelines, not orders. The caregiver doesn’t have to follow it. But the advantage is that the caregiver can adjust to changing circumstances.
  • When writing the letter, you should get input from your child and other family members.
  • Write the letter using plain, everyday language. Technical language can make it harder for your caregiver to understand.
  • The LOI should focus on facilitating your child’s growth.

What Should I Put In My Letter of Intent?

A well-crafted LOI includes the following:

  • Introduction: Briefly explain the letter’s purpose. Give your name, your child’s name, and your relationship to them. You should also include your child’s identifying information, like date of birth.
  • Medical information: Lay out your child’s medical history and medical care needs. Include diagnoses, disabilities, and chronic health conditions. Also, provide information about their health care providers and specialists.
  • Daily routine: Outline your child’s daily routine. Include their schedule, medications, and therapies. Explaining their personal care routine and dietary needs is also a good idea.
  • Education and employment: Explain your child’s education. Mention any vocational training and special education programs. Also, provide employment information if your child has a job. You can also explain your child’s career goals.
  • Communication: Explain how your child communicates, for example, whether it’s by sign language, speech, or the use of assistive devices. Be sure to include your child’s preferred way of communicating.
  • Living arrangements: Detail your child’s living situation. Include where and with whom they live. Specify if they live independently, with family, or in a group home.
  • Financial information: List your child’s financial resources. Include income sources and public benefits like Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Also, include health insurance and life insurance information. It’s a good idea to provide the contact information for the trustee of their special needs trust.
  • Names of key service providers: List the key people in your child’s life, including caregivers and people in their support system. Include their roles and contact information.
  • Social and recreational activities: Explain your child’s interests and hobbies. Include any social organizations to which they belong.
  • Your child’s preferences and goals: List your child’s likes and dislikes. Explain their life goals. Include any religious or cultural preferences.
  • End-of-life care and funeral arrangements: Outline your child’s preferences for end-of-life care. Include funeral arrangements and burial or cremation preferences.
  • Updates and revisions: Explain that the caregiver should update the LOI as your child’s preferences and needs change.

You can add and remove information to suit your situation as your child’s needs change. Never forget to sign and date the letter when making changes.

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney for Help

It’s great that you made a trust for your special needs child. But to ensure your child’s future, you should write an LOI. That will help ensure your child’s future caregivers know what your child needs to thrive. An experienced estate planning attorney can tell you what information to put in the letter.

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