Estate Planning, Probate & Elder Law Tips, Tricks, News, Upcoming Events & More
Leave a Roadmap with Your Estate Plan
Estate planning is an essential step in securing your family's financial future and ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes. The estate planning process typically includes creating a Will or establishing a Trust, designating beneficiaries, appointing agents and more all with the goal to minimize taxes, avoid probate, and ensure your assets go to the right people or causes. Sometimes, however, your plan documents can seem impersonal and it takes more to convey your desires and sentiments to your loved ones. That's where the need for clear instructions, written without “legalese”, can come into play as a “roadmap” for your loved ones.
The Letter of Instruction: Your Roadmap
We always say in our office that “documents are just documents, but a ‘plan’ has your voice in it”. A Letter of Instruction that works in tandem with your plan documents can put your voice in your plan. A "Letter of Instruction" is a document that accompanies your estate plan and provides detailed guidance to your family and loved ones. This letter is an opportunity to share not only your financial wishes, but also your personal values, your sentimental thoughts regarding your choice in leaving certain items to your beneficiaries, and even important contacts or other information reflecting where things can be found or how you want your life celebrated.
A Letter of Instruction can, for example, express that you want your daughter to have Aunt Edna’s rocking chair because you remember rocking her to sleep in it or you want your son to have your grandfather’s tool set because you remember building things with him when you were little. However, a Letter of Instruction can also be helpful to navigate your loved ones through the “legal jargon” terrain of your estate planning documents. For example, in a trust, there is usually a distribution scheme for the payment of the trust assets to the beneficiary. With a Letter of Instruction, you can explain in detail how you envision these distributions helping the beneficiary with college or building a home or starting a new business.
Communicate Your Intentions
In essence, a Letter of Instruction should act as a bridge between the legal documentation of your estate plan and the emotional and practical aspects of it. In addition to the contents stated above, it can include:
- Financial details: Specify the location of important documents, bank accounts, investment portfolios, and insurance policies.
- Digital assets: Provide information about your online accounts, passwords, and instructions on how to access them.
- Personal wishes: Share your desires regarding funeral arrangements, organ donation, and any other personal matters that are important to you.
- Charitable contributions: If you have charitable causes close to your heart, let your loved ones know so they can carry out your philanthropic wishes.
Our team understands the importance of not only creating a comprehensive estate plan, but also ensuring your loved ones have the guidance they need to execute it effectively. To explore the importance of securely storing your estate plan and essential tips on keeping it accessible to your family when needed, read more here: https://bdsmith-law.com/congrats-on-having-an-estate-plan-but-where-are-you-storing-it/.
Estate planning is not just about legal documents; it's about leaving a roadmap for your loved ones. Through a Letter of Instruction, you can provide the necessary guidance to make the process smoother during a challenging time.
Our firm is committed to helping you create a comprehensive estate plan and ensuring your wishes are clearly communicated to your family. Connect with us today to start this crucial journey toward securing your family's future.
Unsure what to do with any of your assets in your estate plan? Don’t hesitate to reach out to The Law Firm of Blanche D. Smith to ensure you are making a fully-informed decision. Call us today at (936) 301-0111 or fill out the form below.