No child comes with instructions. No matter how much is written on the subject, parenting will always involve trial and error. By the time parents achieve a rudimentary level of skill, they are usually expected to hand their children over to a school teacher. A small team forms and community assumes its role. Long-term planning is primarily financial.
Parents of special needs children may have a similar experience up to a point. Eventually, however, it becomes clear that those who may assume the role of guardian or caregiver for these children will, in fact, need instructions. Long-term planning will entail healthcare and therapeutic needs. Finer details such as lifestyle preferences, personality traits and behavioral history may also be required. While parents will hopefully remain behind the wheel for the long run, they are advised to draft a document known as a Memorandum of Intent. Also known as a Letter of Intent, it should lay out clear expectations regarding care of the child in order to establish consistency, regardless of who is responsible.
What should be included in a Memorandum of Intent?
Each parent’s unique insight should certainly be included. However, the letter should also include specific details. Anyone who needs to be notified upon the parents’ death or incapacity should be listed along with contact information. The rest should read like most applications parents are used to filling out. Along with the child’s name and date of birth, all medical information should be explained in detail. That means doctors, therapists, treatments, medication, etc.
Remember that what you write is what will be followed in your absence, so keep the details coming. What are your preferences regarding your child’s education or religion? What specific beliefs do you hold regarding upbringing? Ask yourself these questions and go deeper.
The Memorandum has a “Miscellaneous Instructions” section. Take advantage of it. Help the reader get to know your child’s unique personality traits. What hobbies or interests does the child have? Does he or she have issues with behavior or mobility? Are assistive technologies required? Be sure to mention where any medical records or important documents are located.
How do I start writing a Memorandum of Intent?
First, a Memorandum is not a legal document. You may invest a great deal of time and effort but it will have to withstand scrutiny. It must be a reliable source of information, a contingency plan. If you think it sounds like a worthwhile endeavor for any parent, you are not wrong. It is only strongly recommended for parents of children with special needs because those children especially benefit from continuity of care. The responsibilities of their parents tend to grow more and more unique or specialized.
The Memorandum may not be legally binding but it is still significant enough to be stored in a secure location. Others should have copies as well, such as anyone else involved in your child’s care, family members, and your care manager. Just bear in mind that should any conflict arise over any information in the Memorandum, legal documents such as wills or trusts will take precedent.
As your child grows older, the Memorandum can be updated. Over time, it will become the essential guide to the life of your son or daughter. After all, how hard could it be to chronicle the growth and development of someone you love? Your AdvancedRM care manager can be a valuable resource for writing, planning, and executing your Memorandum. Be sure to contact us for assistance.