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Letter of Intent

No one else knows your child as well as you do, and no one ever could. You’re a walking encyclopedia of her habits, needs, and wishes. When your child has special needs, though, there’s an additional chapter, detailing medical, behavioral, and educational requirements.

So what happens if you suddenly aren’t there? First and foremost, you should name a guardian, but a letter of intent (click here for a sample outline) will be crucial in helping that individual minimize disruption and disorientation for your loved one. This letter should include a description of your child’s disabilities and medical history, including all medications and dietary needs. List key contacts, educational details, and her schedule of therapy and other services—all the instructions necessary for day-to-day life.

The letter of intent should detail family history, capturing those little things that only close relatives understand: daily schedule, favorite activities, things she loves or hates, living arrangements that work or don’t…there’s no detail too small to ease the transition.

Because levels of disability vary, and because many people fail to recognize that, it’s important to include a list of daily activities. 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 she loves to clear the table, mention that. If folding clothes frustrates her, it’s important that future caretakers have this information up front.

Does your adult child have a job? Does she want one? What type of work can she be successful at? Is college an option? How did you plan to pay for it? These are all questions that emerge eventually in the life of a person with special needs, and although you certainly plan to be there to help answer them, it’s important that you address them beforehand, for your child’s sake.

A letter of intent is not a legal document, although you may want to seek the advice of a New York special needs planning attorney in drafting yours and ensuring that it’s appropriately coordinated with the rest of your estate plan. Additionally, an experienced special needs planning attorney understands what’s important and what’s not, and can optimize the effectiveness of your letter of intent.

Our special needs planning consultation session is designed to assist you as you draft the letter of intent that will protect your child and the investment you’ve already made in the future. Contact our New York special needs planning attorneys today.

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