What Is a Letter of Intent?
A “Letter of Intent” is an important document for a future guardian or advocate of your child. Most often only parents know the most important information regarding their child and how his or her unique needs can be met. A Letter of Intent is a valuable tool to communicate specific information regarding everything from proper medical care to a child’s favorite recreational activities. A Letter of Intent is a critical component in life planning as it can help maintain continuity for the child in the parents’ absence.
INCLUDING ESSENTIAL INFORMATION
The Letter of Intent should contain essential information about the child. It should also convey specific information that may seem less critical but is necessary to maintain the child’s long-term independence and happiness.
A well crafted Letter of Intent includes:
- Names, addresses and telephone numbers of important family members, professionals, and other caring individuals who are involved in the child’s life.
- Medical and treatment history, including successful and unsuccessful interventions and strategies.
- Information regarding housing, residential care, education, employment, and social issues. This information should encompass the past, present, and future.
- Social, behavioral, and personal relationships that are important to the child and individuals whom the child enjoys.
- Descriptions of the child’s living skills, including daily routines and instructions regarding activities in which the child needs assistance.
- Parents’ concerns regarding discipline, behavior strategies, and any other instructions to caretakers regarding the promotion of particular values.
- Descriptions of the child’s favorite activities, hobbies, entertainment, foods, vacations, etc.
SHARING & UPDATING THE LETTER
Once the letter is completed, be sure your family knows that it exists. Let your fiduciaries—trustee, guardian, and agents under powers of attorney—know where to find the letter. Keep the original letter in your trust binder or with you. The letter should be updated on a fairly regular basis as the child’s needs and interests may change. Update the letter at least once per year—more often if you can.
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