A potential source of worry for parents of special needs children is what will happen to their child when they are no longer able to care for them. A special needs trust can provide financial support and name trustees who will oversee care in the future, but does not provide the day-to-day information that would allow future caregivers to properly fulfill their duties.

A letter of intent is the document that fills the gap to allow future caregivers to tailor their care to a special needs child. The letter of intent accompanies a child’s other legal documents and provides direction to future caregivers.

Ideally, a letter of intent should be as detailed as possible. The letter will be the framework that allows someone else to step in when the parent is no longer able to care for the child. This letter is the place for parents to impart how they want their child to be treated and what knowledge they have learned about their child’s preferences and abilities over the years.

The letter should provide the necessary background to help future caregivers. The letter should contain the child’s medical history, current status, and future prognosis. Specifically, the letter should detail the child’s medical needs and go over the daily tasks the child is and isn’t capable of performing. In those areas where the child needs assistance, the letter should specify the child’s preferences and expectations about how assistance is provided.

The letter should also describe the child’s likes and dislikes as fully as possible. What foods does the child like or dislike? How does the child like their food to prepared? What are the special treats the child enjoys? What forms of entertainment does the child appreciate and enjoy? What other activities does the child like to engage in?

The letter should also go over the child’s other relationships. Do they have other friends, acquaintances, social groups, or other caregivers who play a role in the child’s life. Who are the people that know the child and could provide help to a future primary caregiver?

Ultimately, the letter should describe the broader vision of what future they see for their child and what role they want future caregivers to play.

Once composed, a letter of intent should be periodically reviewed and updated as the child’s situation and preferences evolve. Parents should make a point of fully reviewing the letter at least once a year to make sure that the information they are providing to future caregivers is still valid.

To make sure that the proper legal documents and support are in place for the future care of your special needs child, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.