Memorandum of Intent — “Babysitter Instructions”

You’ve created your estate plan. Your trust is in place, your health care directive is signed, guardians for your children have been nominated and informed. Now you can sit back, relax, and breathe a huge sigh of relief . . . except you still feel there is something missing. How will your guardians know to pay for Kevin’s karate or Brianna’s ballet? How will they know how important it is that your kids stay involved in your church or synagogue?

The answer lies with a memorandum of intent. Remember when you left detailed instructions to the babysitter when the kids were young?  Similarly, a memorandum of intent is a letter that you write to the guardians of your children. In it you can express the things that might be considered too small, or the things that change to frequently, to include in your trust. Listed below are just a few of the things that might be included in a memorandum of intent:

  • After-school activities
  • Names and phone numbers of your children’s “best friends”
  • Your preferences for religious upbringing
  • Unique holidays and traditions celebrated by your family
  • Pediatrician name and phone number (or other health-care providers)
  • Your discipline style and parenting resources you find helpful
  • Your children’s favorite foods, favorite toys, comfort objects

Your trust is what provides for your children’s physical and financial well-being, a memorandum of intent will provide for their emotional well-being. It is the information contained in this memorandum that will make a transition smoother and easier for all involved should the unthinkable happen.

A memorandum of intent is not necessarily just for parents of young children. Memorandums can be especially helpful if you have a special needs child or are the caretaker of an elderly parent. Some people have even chosen to leave memorandums of intent along with a pet trust to the caretakers of their pets.

You can’t be sure that you will always be there to guide your children into adulthood, but you can be sure they will always know your hopes and wishes for them. A thoughtful and lovingly-written memorandum can serve not only as a guide for your guardians, but can also serve as a letter to your children, reminding them that your love and support will be with them always.