One element of estate planning that is little discussed but can be very useful is the Letter of Intent. Generally contained within an estate plan, a Letter of Intent contains instructions on how the estate and the decedent’s executors should care for a child, particularly a child with special needs. A recent LifeHealthPro article, titled "Letter of intent: a useful component of an estate plan," raises some interesting issues you may not have considered when creating your formal estate plan. For parents, their children are the most important part of their lives. With that in mind, a Letter of Intent can be a very important document to ensure special care for your children. Accordingly, consider including such a letter as part of your estate documents. The article advises that there's no drawback to writing one either. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. Far from being a “silver bullet” for all of your estate planning “must-haves,” there are some things that a Letter of Intent can't do. For example, a Letter of Intent is really a "blueprint" for other estate planning documents. You can use the Letter of Intent to provide detailed instructions and preferences for the care of your child, and those wishes can then be reflected in your wills or a trust to guarantee that they’re carried out. Financial decisions should be a reflection of your vision of the child's care—not vice versa. Another thing to note is that the letter can be drafted right now, regardless of where you and your child are in life. "It’s not just that you never know when disaster will strike, although that’s always a good reason to be prepared," the article says. Understanding a child—especially one with special needs—is a lifelong journey. Start the letter now and add to it as the years go on. Get your child involved, as it is his or her life, and he or she should have a voice. The LifeHealthPro article confirms that the child will appreciate being permitted to be a part of the important decisions about his or her future. One last thing to remember: this is your opportunity to record everything about your child. A Letter of Intent can do this and more—it can let others know about his or her personality, likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. This will be critical information for those individuals whom you entrust to potentially have an important role in the care of your child. Reference: LifeHealthPro (June 3, 2014) "Letter of intent: a useful component of an estate plan"