Letter of Intent
A letter of intent should encompass the plan for your child’s future. Your child might outlive you by 40 years. No one can be a substitute for you. However, if you document the supports you have in place and your wishes, you will help to build continuity and support for your child.
Consider the following questions:
- What is the plan?
- Where will your child live?
- Will your child live independently?
- Is your child interested in employment?
- What social and recreational needs are there?
- What is it that others must know about your child if you are not here?
- What is your child’s medical history?
- Who will be the trustee?
- Who will manage taxes/money?
- Does this person understand public benefits?
- Who will be your child’s advocate/guardian?
- Who will be a friend to your child?
Please be aware that a letter of intent is not legally binding. You may want to consider the following…
- Who are the relatives?
- Are they helpful?
- Who is on your child’s team?
- Is there contact information?
- Your philosophy about medical care?
- How would you like hygiene, relationships, and things like table manners, self-care, chores and household responsibilities managed?
- How do you praise and set realistic expectations?
- How do you want their money handled?
- Does your child know what to do: in an emergency, if they suddenly feel ill, get lost, or if there is a fire?
- How will the caregiver know your child is satisfied and happy?
There are many different templates for Letters of Intent. However, there are 10 basic things every letter of intent needs to address.
- Family History: Where and when you were born, raised, married, something special about siblings, grandparents, and other relatives, special friends, description of your child’s birth, when, where, your feelings, etc.
- General Overview: A brief overview of your child’s life to date and your general feelings about the future.
- Education Summary: Educational experiences and desires for future education; regular classes, special classes, special schools, related services, mainstreaming, extracurricular activities and recreation; types of educational emphasis, i.e., vocational, academic, total communication, etc.; the name of specific programs, school, teachers, related services providers.
- Employment: Types of work your child may enjoy; open employment with supervision, activity center, etc.; companies that you are aware of that may be of interest to your child and provide employment in the community.
- Residential Environment: To live with relatives, friends or others – specify; if those people pass away, who are the other options, i.e., a group home in the same community – specify size; describe the best living arrangement – single room, etc.
- Social Environment: Mention the type of social activities your child enjoys, i.e. sports, dances, movies, etc.; should they have spending money and how should it be spent; favorite foods and eating habits; does your child take and/or enjoy vacations.
- Religious Environment: Specify religion; local place of worship your family attends; local clergy that may be familiar with your family; has there been religious education and is this of interest to your child.
- Medical Care: Current doctors, therapists, clinics, hospitals, etc., and how frequently your child attends and for what purpose; current medications, how are they given, for what purpose; list medications that have not worked in the past.
- Behavior Management: Describe the current behavior management program that is being used; other behavior management programs that have not worked.
- Desires for your child’s funeral arrangements: – including – pre arrangements you have made (if any), choice of the funeral home, burial, cemetery, monument, religious service, and clergy. You may also include any other information you feel will help the person(s) caring for your child to provide the best possible care. This letter should be placed with all of your other relevant legal and personal documents concerning your child. Do not forget to sign and date the letter.
For information about documenting medical care, please reference the Health (BLUE) section of the Choices Book and the Utah Care Notebook available through the Utah Medical Home Portal.
You can find more information about wills, trusts, and planning for the future and a letter of intent in the RED section of the Choices Book: