A memorandum of intent, or letter of intent, is an estate planning document that is prepared by the parent of a child with a disability. The document memorializes your child’s medical history and medical needs so that, in the event of your death, your child’s future guardian or caregiver will be well-equipped to properly meet your child’s needs. The letter outlines your hopes and goals for your child as well as the child’s dreams and aspirations. It should be given to the guardian and to the trustee of the special needs trust.

What Information Goes into a Memorandum of Intent?

The letter provides detailed information about your child’s medical care, including:

  • The names and contact information for doctors, therapists, and hospitals.
  • Lists of medications that should be taken or avoided.
  • Information about your attorney, power of attorney, successor trustees, caregivers, and caseworkers.

The memorandum of intent also describes your child’s daily routine, favorite pastimes, favorite foods, and foods to be excluded from your child’s diet. It also mentions your child’s educational experiences, how you would like your child to be educated in the future, your child’s desire to have a career, and any skills that your child possesses. You may include such details as the types of classes, names of schools, preferred teachers, and any extra-curricular activities.

The residential arrangement for the child is an important that should be addressed in a memorandum of intent because your child may prefer to live within close proximity of family of friends, or may desire to maintain a more independent lifestyle. It is also imperative that you provide the kinds of governmental benefits that your child receives, such as Medicare, Medicaid or Medi-Cal, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) / Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Final arrangements for your child’s death and burial should also be addressed, including the kind of service, funeral home, and burial plot.

How Often Should I Update the Memorandum of Intent?

After you write the letter, make sure that you sign and date it, and review it at least once a year, updating it as often as you think necessary. Inasmuch as the letter of intent is a very important legal document, it should be placed with your other estate planning documents regarding your child.

Should I Consult an Attorney?

Writing a memorandum of intent can be a very difficult and emotional process. It may be helpful to consult an estate lawyer, who can write the letter for you once you assemble all the necessary documents with the relevant information.