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Guidelines for Letter of Intent for a Special Needs Trust

Should a time arrive when your child must be cared for by someone else, it is imperative that you write a letter intent to make sure their needs are properly met. The letter of intent should be entrusted to the guardian, any possible successor guardians, and the trustee of the special needs trust in order to ensure all necessary parties are informed.

The letter should state your child’s present medical needs and medical history. It should also state future medical needs and what your child desires for their future quality of life. As a parent or guardian, you are presenting the future responsible party with an introduction to your child, their personality, and the importances of their life, both medically and personally.

The following areas are a guideline to help you create a letter of intent that will thoroughly state the desires for your and your child’s intentions. It may be helpful to consult with family members, an attorney, or any trustees to make sure all important areas are covered sufficiently. You should also update this letter at least once a year, as medical needs and history may change, along with your desires.

Medical History and Vital Statistics
Providing your child’s medical history is vital in order to give the future responsible party who will care for your child an idea of their past and know the important facts for their future. All medications the child has taken and is currently taking should be detailed. It is important that your medical plan regarding treatment and therapy standards is understood as well.

This section should include the contact information for physicians, caregivers, power of attorney, attorney and any caseworkers that may have been involved. Also include information for close relatives, their relationship to the child, and the contact information of successor trustees or guardians.

Lifestyle and Residential Arrangements
It should be stated how your child lives, and how they wish to live in the future. If they are active socially, physically, educationally, and wish you remain so this should be illustrated. Things such as your child’s favorites regarding food, activities, and leisure time should all be provided. You should also include if your child desires to receive an education, pursue a career, and what their skill sets involve.

It is important to articulate what living arrangements are necessary and desired by you and your child. State whether your child needs at home care, has desire to be in close proximity of family, or is capable of maintaining a certain level of independence. This ensures both you and your child’s intended outlook is met and your child knows you care that their future is properly cared for.

Supervision and Caregiver Roles
This section of the letter of intent should ascertain how much care your child requires, and how much they are projected to require in the future. You should state the roles of caregivers, physicians, and trustees in their life and the level of care they provide. Their roles may fluctuate, as may the level of their involvement, and should therefore be stated as well.

The guardian should be reminded of their role of carrying out the wishes of your child, and caring for decisions socially and medically. The guardian’s level of discretion and supervision is allocated by you so this is also important to articulate. The trustee should understand their role in providing financial management, disbursement of funds, and abiding by the wishes of the guardian and the child’s special needs trust.

Spirituality, Quality of Life, and Final Arrangements
There are other important considerations that should be included in a letter of intent. Spirituality and faith preferences should be stated, along with your present practices, the religious assemblage you attend, and if future attendance is desired.

List any plans that have been established for your child’s death and burial. List any details including funeral home, burial plot and location, and companies used for other arrangements. If no plans have been made, state your preferences regarding cremation or burial, burial site location preference, and what type of service is favored.