A Memorandum of Intent communicates and documents your preferences regarding the care of a minor child as a beneficiary of the special needs trust you’ve created. It provides a guideline for the people who may become responsible for decisions about the child’s life.
A Memorandum of Intent is a personal letter drafted by you. It is intended to give trustees (those who will be responsible for the child) insight and information regarding services, support and personal preferences affecting your child. Nobody knows your child like you do. That’s why a Memorandum of Intent is so important for families with special needs children.
We have provided a sample Memorandum of Intent to help you get started. It is by no means a comprehensive document, but more of a jumping off point to make an overwhelming task a little easier. You can download the document here.
4 Things to Keep in Mind
1) Parents, siblings, other close family members, and especially the child himself should contribute to the letter.
2) The letter should reflect your expectations. Future circumstances may make it difficult for others to carry out strict demands, therefore it is more important that you convey broad ideas, philosophies and preferences that will help those carrying out the plan adhere to your expectations.
3) Be sure to gear the preferences in the letter toward enhancing your child’s independence and growth as a person. Do not let yourself be swayed by the possibility of inconveniencing family members or care providers. Express what is best for your child.
4) It is necessary to periodically review and update the Memorandum of Intent. Age and circumstances may alter what you want or need to include in the document. Changes with potential caregivers and trustees may also warrant updating the letter.
THE MEMO SHOULD INCLUDE:
— Basic information about your child like name, date of birth, place of birth, trust information, etc.
— Agencies that relatives, trustees and guardians should contact for advice or help (e.g., local chapter of ARC, law firm, case managers, care providers, physicians, therapists, close family members, friends, etc.).
— A list of all government benefits that your child receives or qualifies to receive.
— Your child’s current employment information or the type of employment he or she might enjoy.
— The type of living situation you anticipate for your child. Be sure to include the location and qualities you and your child prefer. If possible, list geographic preferences, type of physical and natural environment, preference for non-smoking home, the need for certain religious adherences, etc.
— Regular routines for your child (e.g., daily schedule for getting ready for school, weekly therapy appointments, etc.).
— The type of school or day program you’d like the child to attend.
— The names and addresses of any day programs, sports programs or habilitation programs in which your child regularly takes part.
— The types of services, therapies or medical interventions that are needed or may be needed (e.g., job training, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.).
— A list of your child’s routine medical care and the names and locations of preferred medical professionals.
— Health insurance information that a guardian or trustee would need to get medical care and ongoing services for your child. A photocopy of the insurance card can be helpful.
YOUR CHILD’S PREFERENCES AND ABILITIES
The Memorandum of Intent should also include various statements about your child’s likes and dislikes along with specifics about their abilities and limitations. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Grooming preferences including type and color of clothing, hair style preferences and toiletry articles your child likes to use.
- Likes and dislikes about food, chores and other routine daily activities.
- List favorite personal items like special electronics, certain furniture, pets, etc.
- Describe personal habits that it would be important for someone else to know about.
- List all friends and relatives, their contact information, and how often your child likes to visit these people.
- List your child’s favorite recreation and leisure activities, the level of independence your child has doing these activities and how frequently you participate in them.
- Describe any religious preference or religious activities that your child participates in.
- Describe how well your child can get around in the community (e.g., ability to ride public transportation, can shop alone, can walk in neighborhood alone, etc.).
- Describe your child’s ability to handle money (e.g., can make change, can make independent purchases, etc.).
- Describe your child’s ability to read, write, communicate and understand what others say. If your child is not verbal, be sure to talk about ways in which they communicate with others.
- Describe any aspects of your child’s disability that you feel are particularly important to be aware of (e.g., needs structure, must be kept from food, does not like loud noise or crowds, etc.).
Some clients find it easier to write the Memorandum of Intent after keeping a daily journal for several weeks. During that time you can record daily, weekly and monthly activities of both your child and the people who provide care and support. The journal can then be used as an aid to create the Memo of Intent.
Be sure to sign and date the letter. The letter and any future revisions should be sent to your law firm. Keep a copy for yourself and with your trust. It is also a good idea to distribute the letter to anyone who may be responsible for decisions about your child in the future.
As always, if you have any questions, we would be more than happy to assist you. Just give us a call at 913-345-2323.
Here is the template for a Memorandum of Intent. Feel free to add extra pages, if necessary. This is just a tool to help get you started with the creation of this vitally important document.