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MassMutual Offers Free 'Letter of Intent' Template to People with Disabilities and Their Families, Caregivers

Tool helps families organize, plan for future of loved ones with special


SPRINGFIELD, Mass., April 1, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) today made available on its Web site a free template of a Letter of Intent (LOI) that families can use to begin developing or supplementing life care plans for family members with a disability or other special need.

The template, created with the input of MassMutual professionals with decades of combined experience in special needs planning, is a fillable Word document that can be customized by parents and/or caregivers to reflect their specific situations. Parents and caregivers can visit to request the template, which is on a compact disc.

A Letter of Intent provides critical caregiving instructions to future guardians, trustees and advocates of the person with a disability in the event of the death of a parent or caregiver. While not a legal document, the LOI can be an effective supplement to a will or trust because it attempts to ensure that a family's wishes will be fully understood.

"A Letter of Intent is a great way for families and caregivers to gather all relevant information in one place, make clear the family's intentions, and communicate important insights about the unique personality, needs, likes and dislikes of the family member with special needs," said Randy Cushing, CLU, ChFC, CLTC, and Special Care Planner, whose practice is associated with Commonwealth Financial Group of Boston, a MassMutual general agency.

"Because the template is an electronic document, it can be easily updated or conveniently sent to other family members, caregivers and advisors," added Cushing, who uses the Letter of Intent template with his clients who have special needs.

While important for all families with members having a disability, a Letter of Intent is particularly important in the case of children who are incapable of expressing their own needs and wants to caregivers and others, as is the case, for example, with many children with autism.

"The Letter of Intent can help ensure parental intentions and desires are clear to any and all caregivers -- even in the event of a parent's sudden disability or premature death," said Joanne Gruszkos, director of the SpecialCare(SM) program at MassMutual, a coordinated program that provides access to information, specialists and financial products and services that can help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and other special needs and their families. "Often, families understandably become so focused on day-to-day needs that they lose sight of the larger life-care issues and the costs that loom ahead. A Letter of Intent can help focus the family on the future."

Although not legally binding, a Letter of Intent offers guidance to the courts and trustees for interpreting care instructions and typically includes emergency contacts, medical history, preferred living arrangements, education or work arrangements, recreational preferences, behavioral challenges, and a summary of family and financial information.

The LOI is a good life planning document for parents/caregivers to share with their team of advisors who can use it as a guide in drawing up plans, wills, trusts, and other documents. An advisory team may consist of an attorney, CPA and others, such as social workers and caregivers and a Special Care Planner or financial professional. A Special Care Planner has received advanced training in estate and tax planning concepts, special needs trusts, government programs, and the emotional dynamics of working with people with disabilities and other special needs and their families. The Special Care Planner certificate program is offered by The American College in Bryn Mawr, PA, exclusively for MassMutual financial professionals.

Visitors to the MassMutual site also will have the option to obtain additional free information, such as:

-- Making Plans, a financial guide for people with Down syndrome and their


-- 2007 Resource Guide, the source of information published by MassMutual

for people with disabilities and other special needs; and

-- With Open Arms, a financial guide for families with disabilities.

For more information about MassMutual's SpecialCare program, visit

About MassMutual

MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual and its subsidiaries had more than $500 billion in assets under management at year-end 2007. Assets under management include assets and certain external investment funds managed by MassMutual's subsidiaries.

Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a mutually owned financial protection, accumulation and income management company headquartered in Springfield, Mass. MassMutual's major affiliates include: OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; MML Investors Services, Inc., member FINRA and SIPC ( and; MassMutual International LLC and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB. MassMutual is on the Internet at

SOURCE Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
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