Learn about life planning tools and options


You should have a letter of intent, a will, and/or a special needs trust, and you should review and update them if they are no longer current.

What is a letter of intent and why do I need one?

What is a will and why do I need one?

Did you know that a will also serves as the document where you nominate backup guardians for your children who are under age 18? If you have not created one for yourself, it’s up to a judge to decide where your children would live if something happened to you prior to their 18th birthdays.

What is a special needs trust and why do I need one?

Parents who have a child with a disability may want to consider leaving their portion of an inheritance to them via a special needs trust – a document whose function is to protect government eligibility for benefits for someone with a disability. A lot of parents don’t realize that if someone with a disability has more than $2,000 in countable resources (i.e. assets), they may lose eligibility for government benefits – including SSI and Medicaid. It is important to work with legal and financial professionals with expertise in special needs planning, so they may help you navigate the maze of complex issues involved when performing this type of futures planning for your child.

Managing a Special Needs Trust: A Guide for Trustees by Barbara D. Jackins. Esq., Richard S. Blank. Esq., Ken W. Shulman. Esq., and Harriet H. Onello. Esq.

What planning tools are available?

Planning Now: A Futures and Estate Planning Guide for Families of Children and Adults with Developmental Disabilities
From the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council. This guide is available free of charge.

Who do I contact regarding life planning tools?

See our Provider and Services database for more information:

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