Preparing a Statement of Wishes to provide for the care of your child with intellectual disability

Written by:
Angela Cox

Angela Cox

Principal Lawyer

In this article:

What is a ‘Statement of Wishes’?

A Statement of Wishes (or a Letter or Memorandum of Wishes) is an informal document that may accompany your executed Will. It provides further detail and information (a little or lot) about your specific wishes about the administration of your estate, the finalisation of your affairs and any other post-death wishes.

What goes in a Statement of Wishes?

A Statement of Wishes typically obtains detail that it is not addressed in the Will, such as:

  1. Guiding principles for your Executors to assist them in their decision making, eg factors that you’d like them to consider, or people you’d like them to consult with, when they are exercise any discretion given to them in your Will.
  2. The reasons for the decisions you’ve made in your Will, eg why you are leaving certain assets to a particular beneficiary, or why you are excluding a particular family member from any inheritance.
  3. Instructions on the distribution of sentimental or personal items, eg family heirlooms, jewellery, and pets.
  4. Any particular requests in relation to your funeral or burial arrangements, eg as to venues, music, attendees and dress code.
  5. Key contact information that may be useful for your Executors in administering your estate, eg superannuation fund and bank account details, and instructions on the location of documents.
  6. Instructions to the relevant parental guardian on how you would like your children’s inheritance to be managed and applied, and how you would like them to be cared for and raised during their childhood, eg as to schooling, housing, religion and values.
  7. Instructions in relation to an adult child with intellectual disability. I will unpack this important point in the next section!

Instructions in relation to an adult child with intellectual disability

Areas to express detailed wishes, instructions or information on are:

  1. Description of your child’s disability.
  2. Your child’s personality and quirks, and their individual needs and preferences.
  3. Your child’s particular vulnerabilities or challenges.
  4. Your wish that your child’s inheritance be prioritised for their secure housing, furniture, clothing, transport, health, aids and equipment and other essentials.
  5. Your specific wishes as to where your child should live after you pass (eg, in your family home, or in a home of their own, or NDIS-funded specialist disability accommodation).
  6. Your wish as to your child’s care and support arrangements (including any preferred carers or service providers)?
  7. Your wish that your child be taken on a holiday each year, or enjoy certain hobbies or leisure and entertainment activities.  
  8. Your wish that your child remain in contact with, or maintain relationships with their siblings, or other relatives and friends.
  9. Description of your child’s entitlement and/or arrangements with government support systems, eg their NDIS plan, Centrelink income support and Medicare supports.
  10. Description of their arrangements with disability service and support providers.
  11. Details of your child’s treating medical professionals and therapists, and information about their medical needs and medication (particularly if these matters are complex).
  12. Who you prefer to be your child’s supported or substitute decision-maker, or their legal guardian or administrator (if the relevant state/territory Tribunal was to ever consider making a guardian or administrator order). Such persons might include their siblings, other relatives, or family friends.
  13. Your wishes for your child’s end of life medical care and treatment.

Effect of Statement of Wishes

A Statement of Wishes is not legally binding, so you can update it at any time, as need be. It’s recommended however that you always keep the current version stored with your Will. Consider it to be an important addendum to your Will.

Need more tailored advice or help?

If you would like assistance to prepare your Will and/or Statement of Wishes, please get in touch.

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DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is general only. While it may provide guidance on a issue or matter that you may have, it should not be relied on as legal advice. We recommend that you obtain legal advice specific to your issue or matter.

© A. Cox 2024
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