Writing out your estate plan is a big undertaking, but it isn’t one that you should put off. Since you never know when something will happen to you, it’s best to have the plan in place as early as possible. While many people automatically think about writing out their will and establishing trusts, there is another facet of estate planning to consider – the letter of instruction.
One of the most important things to remember about the letter of instruction is that it isn’t a legally binding document. Your loved ones don’t have to do what you say in it, but it’s a good idea to leave one anyway because they might honor what you put in it.
Some of the points you might consider placing in the letter of instruction include a list of your assets and where to find them. You might consider include usernames and passwords for online accounts, including investment, social media and other websites that have things you’ve purchased or amassed. You can also include information about who you want to get these assets. Just remember that the payable on death designee will receive the financial accounts, including investments.
You can also include your wishes for the funeral and related arrangements in this document. Since your loved ones can access the letter of instruction before the estate plan, this is an ideal place to make these wishes known.
Be sure that you have your entire estate plan written out in a way that accurately relays your wishes. In order to ensure this happens, you should evaluate it at least once per year so you can address any changes that should be made.