1899 Western Way
Torrance, CA 90501

Investment Services

877-254-9328, option 6 

Put It in a Letter

Tip: Contact Information. A letter of instructions also might include contact information for individuals who could be helpful in the distribution of your assets, such as your lawyer or financial professional.

American actor Lee Marvin once said, “As soon as people see my face on a movie screen, they knew two things: first, I’m not going to get the girl, and second, I’ll get a cheap funeral before the picture is over.”1

Most people don’t spend too much time thinking about their own funeral, and yet many of us have a vision about our memorial service or the handling of our remains. A letter of instructions can help you accomplish that goal.

A letter of instructions is not a legal document; it’s a letter written by you that provides additional and more personal information regarding your estate. It can be addressed to whomever you choose, but typically letters of instructions are directed to the executor, family members, or beneficiaries.

Make a Cheat Sheet

Think of a letter of instructions as a “cheat sheet” to your estate. Here are a few ideas and concepts that may be included:

  • The location of important legal documents, such as your will, insurance policies, titles to automobiles, deeds to property, etc.
  • A list of financial assets, including savings and checking accounts, stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts. Be sure to include account numbers, PINs, and passwords where applicable.
  • A list of pensions or profit-sharing plans, including the location of their
    explanatory booklets.
  • The location of your latest tax return and Social Security statements.
  • The location of any safe deposit boxes and their keys.

Identify Funeral Wishes

Fast Fact: Going Without. If you die without a will, also called dying “intestate,” the state will
decide how your assets should
be distributed.

A letter of instructions is also a good place to leave burial or cremation wishes. You should consider giving the location of your cemetery plot deed, if you have one. You may even wish to specify which hymns or speakers you would like included in your memorial service. Although a letter of instructions is not legally binding, your heirs will probably be glad to know how you would like to be remembered. It also may be helpful to leave a list of contact information for people who should be notified in the event of your death.

There is no “best way” to write a letter of instructions. It can be written in your style and reflect your personality, or it can be written to simply convey information. You should decide what type of letter best fits your estate strategy.

Don’t Wait

50% of Americans with children don't have a will, and 41% of baby boomers don't have one.

Immediate and Deferred Annuities

Chart Source: Yahoo!Finance, May 6, 2012

1. Brainyquote.com, 2012

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. Some of this material was developed and produced by FMG, LLC, to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2014 Faulkner Media Group.

Share |
 

Related Content

Exit Strategies of the Rich and Famous

Exit Strategies of the Rich and Famous

Estate conservation is too important to put off. Do you have a smart exit strategy?

Problems with Probate

Problems with Probate

Probate can be a completely public process, or it can be managed to include as little information as possible.

Principles of Preserving Wealth

Principles of Preserving Wealth

How federal estate taxes work, plus estate management documents and tactics.