We often tell our clients that there is far more to a legacy than money. A will and a trust are essential documents to have—but there’s more to protecting your loved ones than just those documents. With these important documents (plus the lesser-known but just as important ancillary documents) you’ve provided for your loved ones financially, but what about emotionally? What happens during those difficult months when your dependents must learn to live without you? You’ve worked hard to build a full, comfortable and happy life for your loved ones; preserving (as much as possible) the comfort and stability of that life is at least as important as preserving your financial estate.

One of the best ways to do this is with a memorandum of intent. A memorandum of intent is a letter that you write to the guardians of your children, or to the caretaker of your special needs relative or elderly parent. A memorandum of intent is a document that details the crucial minutia of your daily life. In it you can express the things that might be considered too small, or the things that change too frequently, to include in your trust—but are essential to the daily fabric of your life. This includes details such as:

* An overview of daily schedule and activities

* Names and phone numbers of friends

* Your family’s religious beliefs (if applicable)

* Unique holidays and traditions celebrated by your family

* Name and phone number for primary physician (or other health-care providers)

* Favorite foods, comfort objects, books, etc.

* And much more.

These things may all seem small right now, but it is these comfortable people, places and activities that will help your family through a difficult transition should tragedy strike. You can’t be sure that you will always be there to provide comfort and care for your loved ones, but you can ensure you do your best for them now, to ease their suffering during difficult times later.


Ilene L. McCauley and Frederick H. Goldinov are licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona. The law firm of Goldinov & McCauley, PLC provides legal services for clients in the State of Arizona. The information provided on this website and our blog is general and educational in nature and should not be construed as legal or tax advice, nor does the use of the website create an attorney/client relationship. Laws of specific states or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy or completeness of this information which cannot take the place of one-on-one personal legal consultation and advice. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. No legal representation is created, and we make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use. Neither the authors nor anyone forwarding or reproducing this work shall have any liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained in this website or blog.