Thought for the Day” #1109 – by Stephen R. Elville, J.D., LL.M.

June 27, 2018

How can you ensure that your child or other family member with special needs will remain well cared for and secure once you are no longer able to provide such care and security, and when others assume the role of guardian or caregiver? While creating a financial plan and establishing a specialized trust are many times central to preparing for a disabled person’s future, it is also essential to write down future intentions and expectations in a document referred to as a Memorandum of Intent, also known as a “Letter of Intent.” This document can be used to describe the disabled person’s health care and therapeutic needs, identify lifestyle preferences, and provide contact information for doctors, therapists and teachers. It also can be used to convey insights into personality and history that future caregivers might not easily gain on their own. The Memorandum is not legally binding and, when directions conflict, those in wills, trusts and other legal documents take precedence. But for “non-legal” matters, the Memorandum serves as the primary source of information about the disabled person, providing a roadmap for courts, guardians, caregivers, and others involved in the person’s life. This can be critical in easing transitions, ensuring continuity of care and treatment, and facilitating appropriate decision making regarding living arrangements and other lifestyle choices.