Alex Nadworny Tue, Apr 30, 2024 @ 10:37 AM 11 min read

The Letter of Intent (LOI) Passes On Your Child’s Story

Every person has a story. Take James with Down syndrome, who traditionally receives a new Slinky under the Christmas tree every year. James no longer plays with Slinkies and wouldn’t think to ask for one, but he’d be hurt if he didn’t receive the stretchy toy. Yet, if you’re like many families, that's a piece of family lore tucked into mom’s head. If someone else were responsible for Christmas shopping, would a Slinky make it on the list?

Your family history has many stories:

  • How do you celebrate birthdays? 
  • What are your child’s favorite places? 
  • Or places they don’t like because they had a negative experience? 
  • Who are your child’s favorite people? 
  • Least favorite? 
  • What are your child’s daily habits? 

The Letter of Intent (LOI) is a comprehensive document that provides a place to document your child with special needs story, from practical information such as medical professionals and caregivers to family stories and your child’s preferences.

Wealth advisor Alexandria Nadworny says, “Financial planning is all about planning for the future. One of the biggest concerns families have is what will happen to their child with special needs when they’re no longer there.”

The Letter of Intent bridges that gap by sharing your child’s story with family members, caregivers, and other people on the team which helps ease the transition in an emergency. It’s a valuable resource.


A Team to Carry On 

If you leave your child with a babysitter, you share your child’s habits and preferences. Do they prefer the purple pajamas on weekends or a special snack before bedtime? As a parent, you’d share such details and the emergency contact information. The goal of this information sharing is to have a successful time apart from your child. 

The Letter of Intent document goes much deeper than notes for a caretaker during a night out. It’s meant to provide a deeper level of information so that someone can step into your shoes and not miss a beat in case of an emergency. 

As a parent, you take for granted what you have learned about your child over the years, including your shared life experiences. We often see one spouse carrying more of the specifics on the schedule and who is involved in the child’s daily life. 

It’s also a terrific conversation starter for families. For example, the LOI can spur helpful conversations with siblings or other family members about responsibilities parents take care of on autopilot. 

The LOI encourages you to slow down and start documenting a day in the life of your child with special needs. When you do, you may be surprised by the frequency of calls or the things you do on a regular basis. 

Additionally, the LOI is a tool you can use to store all your child’s relationships with contact information. Get that information out of your phone and your head into a living document you can share. 

Designed specifically for Special Needs Financial Planning, the Letter of Intent includes five areas:

Family Support 

We often hear it takes a village to support a child.  You know your team members and members that may need to be added over time. These documents offer space for you to note names, contact information, and team roles. 


  • Family Information
  • Professional Relationship Information
  • Social and Recreation Information
  • Friends and Extended Family Information
  • Other Family and Support Contacts

Imagine having all this information in one organized place to share with others. You can download the LOI here

The next piece relates to the emotional side of your child’s story. Who are they as people? 

Parents often wear many hats when it comes to raising a child, including family dynamics, traditions, and who fills what roles. As your child with special needs grows up, they may need additional support. What does that look like, and who will do it if you cannot? 

This section encourages you to record all the details, from how you celebrate certain holidays and traditions to your child’s habits and preferences. Include your child’s abilities, sleeping habits, and sensory issues. Additionally, include the roles of people close to your child so there are no surprises. 


Your list of advisors, parental financial information, and any life insurance, potential gifts, and inheritances go here. Questions about your financial values are included, too, to ensure continuity and have all the information in one place. 

This information can help your estate planning documents come to life so the future team can execute your wishes and intent. It is suggested to discuss this with your financial advisor. 


Gather your legal documents and review your trustees. Do the people in your documents know their roles? 

This section includes:

  • Overview of Estate Distribution - Who are your trustees? Who serves as health care proxies for the parents?
  • Location of Important Documents - Where are your birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, and other important documents?
  • Location of Legal Documents Specific to the Child, including guardianship and alternatives, if applicable

Government Benefit Factors
If your child currently receives or may receive government benefits in the future, this is the place to document them. Additionally, if your family chooses not to use government benefits, you can express that here. 

You can download your LOI document here. 

When Should You Create Your Letter of Intent?

Clients often get more serious about future planning during the transition age of 14-22 and at parent's retirement. Both are natural milestones for considering “what’s next.” If your child is a teenager, they’ll soon be a legal adult. Will they need guardianship, or as an alternative to guardianship, will they apply for government benefits? With Special Needs Financial Planning, we consider two retirements: yours and that of your child with special needs. While every vision is different, creating one is an essential part of the planning process. 

We often suggest reviewing every year or more frequently if things are changing. Consider setting a calendar reminder on your child’s birthday or another day of the year to update. 

Once you complete The Letter of Intent document, we recommend sharing it with the important people in your family,  the people named in your estate planning documents, family and friends, and your financial advisor. 

It’s never too soon to create your LOI. You can start today.