Thursday, August 6, 2009

Good Intentions - Planning for the Future - Part 1

There are several parts of planning for your child’s future that I will be covering over the next couple months, ranging from writing your will to buying life insurance. I am going to start with the Letter of Intent because it is free and you can get it done with no professional help.

A letter of intent is a document written for future caregivers that describes your child and the life vision you have for him or her. (Older and adult children can and should help with the life vision but I am writing for the 0-24 month crowd, so you’ll be doing all the planning for now.)

What does this mean? Well, imagine that tomorrow someone else had to step into your shoes and take care of your baby. What routines should they know about, food allergies, preferences, dislikes? What is your bedtime routine? Does your baby love the bath? Is your child on medication? It is important to document these things.

And what about the future you envision? Should your teenager have an allowance? What type of discipline do you want to employ? Do you want to restrict your child from watching rated R movies? Do you want your child raised in a particular faith? Do you want your child to have a particular diet?

After researching several sources on the letter of intent, I have put together a template letter that you can use as the base for your child’s letter of intent. Download the .pdf file and use it as a guide, or email me for a text version of the file that will enable you to type into the document.

Keep in mind when you are writing the letter that you will be updating it every six months or so to keep it current. You’ll need to keep a completed copy of the letter with your important papers, as well as a working copy on your desk or computer.

It is hard to think about what life would be like for our children without us. However, if we don’t go through this exercise, we risk our children not benefitting from all the loving care we have planned for them in our hearts.

Your Turn
Is there something I forgot to put in the letter? Have you already written your letter of intent?


  1. This is very good! When I went to a national conference one year and sat in on a class about this very thing the one thing that stuck with me is to put down wierd things or habits that your child might have that others may not think are appropriate. For example, this woman's child drank Dr. Pepper like it flowed free from a fountain and she let him. Her reasoning behind it, he doesn't drink, smoke, do drugs, swear or have any other bad vices so if he wants a Dr pepper at 3:00 in the morning he can darn well have one :-) I really liked her attitude!

  2. I always tell my friends and family that we have an "owners manual" for our infant - that's essentially what it boils down to... I update our letter of intent almost monthly at this point (things change so quickly for little ones the first year!). So I agree that parents should be prepared to revisit the letter often (especially when children are young). I include everything right down to how to wash my son's diapers (we use cloth) and how to put them away in his closet (to help rotate the diapers for even wear so they last longer).

    My mom came to stay with us for a couple of days while I had to travel for work... and I handed her a 12-page, single-spaced "owner's manual." And she loved it! It really helps people know exactly what your wishes are, what routines your child expects/needs, and helps keep everyone sane!

  3. This is great, thanks so much for sharing it! We went to a financial planning seminar last spring and I learned so much. He mentioned making one of these, but this outline will me be able to do it correctly, there is so much there. Thanks again for sharing this, I look forward to your future posts about this topic!

  4. This is one topic that overwhelms me everytime I think about it. My husband is just as bad, if not worse than, me. Thank you for posting this and the letter. It will be a good starting point for us!

  5. This is great. My husband and I have been talking about this. We were also taking about what type of financial account/fund to open. Thanks for sharing all of this information

  6. When I started reading I thought, "no way!" I literally just went to an information session/briefing on this very topic. A special needs lawyer spoke on the topic. Lots of information to take in.

    One thing to consider, if possible get it notarized. If it's kept with your important documents it may hold up in court (if that need arises), but it's better to have it notarized so it's official.

    It's also a good idea to request a 3rd party to be in charge of any monies your child would receive upon your death. It's one thing to be a guardian of the child, but courts usually recommend a 3rd party because it's already so much to take on the child. A 3rd party should be better able to assess needs vs. wants. Just something that I thought was important.

  7. Like minds! We just met with an atty to set up the will and a special needs 3rd party trust! I would love an emailed copy- I'd been trying to find a format that works. Thanks! Email is-

    Oh and I almost have my blog ready! I've got to get some pix up and I'm working on our "story". I'm so impressed with how everyone works in the time to keep theirs up!

    Thanks- Nicole- mom ot Abby

  8. I have a checklist I try to go over once every half year. See:

    Also I have a running sheet that all doctor appt. and educational issues are written up on

  9. I would suggest that an updated copy of the letter of intent be given to future guardians. We keep a copy with our wills too. It might also be wise to give a copy to the special needs attorney who drafted the wills.


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