Your estate plan is a way for you to make very important decisions regarding the future of your personal property, financial holdings and legacy. A proper estate plan is truly a gift. It provides peace of mind to the owner of the estate and grants family, friends, and other heirs a little piece to remember them by.
A Personal Touch
While the bulk of estate planning is comprised of official legal documents, these formalities may not be enough to convey your thoughts and wishes. Many people wish to include a letter of instruction along with their legal documents. This letter has your wishes in your own words.
In cases where a will or greater estate plan may be contested, a letter that your heirs can look at and say “yes, that sounds like mom” can go a long way. This letter, while not a binding legal document, can allude to or reiterate items more formally laid out in your estate plan. By reiterating your wishes, you can also provide, in your own words, the reasoning behind the decisions reflected in your plan.
A personal letter is always a wonderful way to reach out to family members or friends after you are gone. Your words may be able to bring comfort or clarity to your heirs. A heartfelt message to your loved ones will not only be something they cherish for years to come but may provide you with some additional peace of mind.
Items that don’t really have a place in your formal estate plan can also be included in the form of a note or letter. You may wish to include:
- Preferences for your obituary
- A list of people to contact in the event of your death
- Instructions for burial
- Location of personal items, such as car titles, financial and legal documents, and the keys to a security deposit box
- Login information for your online accounts
A Security Blanket for Your Safety Net
Traditional estate planning documents, such as a will and advanced healthcare directive, provide instruction on the distribution of the estate and the desired medical wishes in the event of incapacity. A personal letter can be, at times, a catch-all for any information you want or need your heirs to be aware of. This document, like all estate planning documents should be updated from time to time to accurately reflect your wishes.