Here are some things we should do now to makes things easier on our survivors.
Letter of Instruction — This section will not go into the obvious need to have a current will. What will be discussed is how to carry out that will with the assistance of a Letter of Instruction. This informal document will tell the executor of your estate and your heirs, in plain simple language, where to find all the documents needed to carry out the will, where all your property is located, where insurance policies are stored, where to find keys, what bank accounts you have open, what property you own, and more.
This letter is not a will or a will substitute and does not have the force of law as does a will. However, it is a very useful estate planning tool and it helps your executor do the best job possible.
Here is an example of things that may be covered in your Letter of Instruction:
Gathering and maintaining this information will be one of the greatest gifts to your heirs.
- Funeral preferences
- Locations of your "hiding places"
- Name of estate Executor
- Whom to notify
- Money owed to you
- List of all insurance policies including life, mortgage and medical
- Location of income tax returns
- Credit card accounts
- Money you owe to others
- Locations of post office and safe deposit boxes;
- Special wishes
- Names of lawyer and accountant
- List of Veteran's benefits you may be entitled to.