THE SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST AND THE LETTER OF INTENT
The special needs trust is the formal legal document we create to impose legal responsibilities and duties on those entrusted with helping the beneficiary. A letter of intent does not impose additional legal duties and responsibilities, but offers useful supplemental information regarding the beneficiary. It also gives those helping the beneficiary guidance on some matters we anticipate will confront them.
A letter of intent often includes a medical component and also should contain the following: resources that provide assistance to persons with disabilities in your child’s local area, including public agencies, churches, individuals and private organizations; residential care needs for your child, including past and present accommodations and expected future needs; educational information, including past records, current enrollment, specialty teachers, future educational goals, special interests and talents, extra-curricular activities, as well as types of educational emphasis, for example, vocational, academic or communication; social, behavioral and personal relationships that are important to your family and child, including relatives, special friends, teachers and care providers; social and recreational activities your child enjoys, including sports, dance, music or movies; and medical information, including current doctors, therapists, clinics, hospitals, current medications and therapies.
Letters of intent can also contain information that isn’t exactly essential, but can be emotionally rewarding. For example, in this letter you can include information such as family history and a communication of the parent’s hopes and desires for a child.
By compiling as much information as possible, we are equipping future care providers with the knowledge and insight needed to increase the likelihood of good choices in order to maximize the beneficiary’s quality of life and avoid the need for caregivers to learn by trial and error. The beneficiary also may participate in creating the letter of intent so that his or her own wishes are acknowledged and recorded.
You need to periodically review and revise this Letter of Intent, providing the future caregiver with an updated copy. As every person is unique, so should this document be unique. Be flexible, be clear, and feel free to make it as personal as you wish. If you are interested in learning more about special needs planning, please contact Shalloway and Shalloway, P.A.