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Instructions Should Help Family Find the Information They Need

This weekend the Wall Street Journal published a helpful article discussing some important aspects of New York estate planning that many residents overlook. Besides creating documents like wills and trusts, the best preparation also includes clear instructions that help family members understand where and how they can access the information they need when a loved one passes on.

As our New York estate planning lawyers frequently advise, “letters of instruction” are often forgotten components of the process. These letters can include information such as online user names, passwords, military discharge papers, PIN numbers, and similar material. They are often kept in a safe-deposit box or with an attorney so that family members have access to bank accounts, can keep up with online payments, and perform similar tasks if necessary.

In today’s high-tech world, residents may also want to leave information related to their wishes regarding their online presence. This may involve social networks like Facebook and Twitter, blogs, or other internet sites in their control.

Veterans need to ensure that their military discharge forms are left behind and accessible so that family members will be entitled to funeral and burial reimbursement. Combinations to locks, storage closets, cars, and other relevant areas should also be easily accessible for those handling affairs. Many residents still have access to documents that are important to their children, such as birth and adoption certificates. It is helpful if the location of those materials is clearly identified.

In addition, those who own valuable intellectual property rights should let their family know of the holdings. Trademarks and patents in particular are often held in the name of a corporation, so family members may be unaware of the specific ownership. Of course, a will or trust should also specify how those rights should be passed on at death.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Many Forget to Include “Letter of Instruction” As Part of Estate Plan

Succession Plans Are Essential For Family Businesses

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