Since for most of us, our children are our foremost priority in life, a Letter of Intent can be a crucial document. And anyone who wants to ensure special care for their children should consider including one with their estate documents; there are no real drawbacks to writing one.
By Stephen K Lehnardt
There are certain estate planning documents that speak to the court, but they do not necessarily do all of the speaking you need them to. When you need (or want) to leave instructions that are more personal to your heirs the tool for the task is the Letter of Intent.
A “Letter of Intent,” not unlike the business version used in and around business transactions, is not the document that does the legal heavy lifting for your estate plan, but it can help move things along with your heirs. Including a letter of intent will supplement and complement your will or trust arrangement. LifeHealthPro offered some important perspective on the Letter of Intent in a recent article with some special attention to planning for special needs children and it is worth your thoughts: “Letter of intent: a useful component of an estate plan.”
If the will tells the probate court what you want to do with your assets, the Letter of Intent gives you the voice to say the same for all of the other topics, from your hopes and wishes to very practical instruction regarding this or that. If you have a child with special needs, then a Letter of Intent can give you the space to offer all manners of practical instruction that simply cannot fit within a will and may be inappropriate for a legal document in the first place. That is the rub, of course. The Letter of Intent is not the will or trust and is not legally binding.
For a bit more on the Letter of Intent as a tool and for a great deal more advice on how to use it, particularly with regard to children with special needs, check out the original article. Sometimes this little letter can mean all of the difference. In any event, it might help you and your loved ones organize your thoughts.
In the end, however, if your objectives require that some essential legal concerns are addressed, then the heavy lifting needs to be done in properly drawn legal documents. So what are your needs and how will you put them to paper?
For more information in Liberty, MO and the Kansas City Area about letters of intent and effective estate planning and to access free information and tools to organize your estate, visit our elder law and estate planning website.
Reference: LifeHealthPro (June 3, 3014) “Letter of intent: a useful component of an estate plan”