What is a Letter of Intent? Do I Need One for My Child Who Has Special Needs?

letter of intent

A letter of intent is a future planning document that a parent can prepare for a child with special needs. The goal of a letter of intent is to assist your loved ones and those who will be caring for your child when you no longer can act as the child’s primary caregiver. You can explain the best ways to care for and manage your child’s needs in detail to help ease the transition into a new caregiving routine.

Contents of a Letter of Intent

While the contents of a letter of intent may vary substantially from one family to the next, all letters of intent should contain several general elements.

  • Family History – You should give a brief overview of your family’s history, your child’s birth, and details about any siblings. Details can include places and dates of birth, places where the family lived, names of special relatives, favorite family stories, etc.
  • Daily Schedule – Your child is likely to have a certain routine based on their abilities and may be very dependent on it. Especially in a time of transition, maintaining this schedule can be essential. Therefore, you should describe your child’s schedule in detail, including tasks your child performs or helps perform daily. You should also point out tasks that your child both likes and dislikes or finds frustrating.
  • Medical History and Care – You should provide a complete overview of your child’s disability and other medical conditions. Include a detailed list of names and contact information for doctors, therapists, hospitals, and other medical providers who currently treat your child and the conditions for which they treat your child. List all medications and dosages and any medications that have not been successful in the past. Describe all regularly occurring appointments and therapy sessions and their location and frequency. Finally, list any allergies or medications that cause adverse reactions in your child.
  • Eating Habits – List the foods that your child normally eats in a week and their favorite foods. In addition, include any food allergies and foods that interact poorly with the child’s medications and any foods that the child simply does not like.
  • Education – Describe all educational programs your child is currently enrolled in, including all education courses, supplemental tutoring, and related services. If any educational plans are in place through the child’s school, include a copy of those plans and the key school personnel to contact concerning those plans. If your child regularly works with special teachers, counselors, or school personnel, list their names and contact information.
  • Government Benefits – Provide detailed information about all government benefits your child receives, including Medicaid, Medicare, SSI or SSDI, SNAP, and housing assistance. For each program, describe the benefit provided, the contact information for the agency that administers the program, identification numbers for your child’s case, and reporting and recertification requirements.
  • Employment – List any employment your child currently holds or vocational programs in which your child participates.
  • Living Arrangements – Describe your child’s current living and care arrangements. For example, suppose your child’s current living arrangements cannot continue when you can no longer serve as the primary caregiver at home. In that case, you should recommend alternative arrangements that would best suit your child. For instance, you should recommend whether your child would benefit from a group home, a small residence with fewer people, a single room, or a room with a roommate.
  • Social Activities – Provide a list of social activities that your child enjoys or participates in regularly. Explain whether your child is permitted to spend their own money on chosen items or activities. Describe whether the child likes to travel and, if so, what accommodations are necessary during travel.
  • Religious Arrangements – Indicate whether your child regularly attends church or other places of worship and related activities that the child likes to attend. Provide contact information for clergy or other adults in the congregation who have close relationships with your child.
  • Final Wishes – Explain your preferences for your child’s final arrangements, including whether you have already planned a funeral or burial or made similar arrangements.

When you complete the letter of intent, you should sign it, date it, and leave it with your other important legal documents. You also should ensure that your spouse, children, or other close relatives know where this letter is located or even consider sending it to them electronically.

You should review this letter annually or whenever your child undergoes any major changes in his daily life, medical care, or living arrangements. Keeping the letter of intent updated is essential to best assist those who will care for your child in the future. 

Contact Us for Help With Your Letter of Intent 

Rubin Law is an Illinois law firm whose sole purpose is to enhance the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and mental illnesses. We offer legal services and future planning for adults and children with special needs. Our patience, compassion, and unique understanding of individuals with disabilities and those who care for them allow us to offer the legal guidance that you need.

We have the skills and knowledge to help you provide for your child’s future needs and meet your objectives. Set up a time to speak with us about your family by emailing us at email@rubinlaw.com or calling 866-TO-RUBIN.