What is a Letter of Instruction and Why Do You Need it?

What is a Letter of Instruction and Why Do You Need it?A letter of instruction can help your loved ones tie up loose ends and give them peace of mind after your passing. Although it is an informal document, lawyers who specialize in wills often encourage clients to create one as part of their estate plan. A letter of instruction enables you to clarify your wishes and address matters that may not be in your will and gives you the freedom to offer personal messages to your family and friends.

What is in a Letter of Instruction?

Also known as a letter of intent, a letter of instruction may include everything from social media passwords to specifics about your wishes for funeral arrangements. It can also provide an easy-to-follow guide for the executor or personal representative in charge of settling your estate. Your estate planning attorneys can help you write up a letter of intent and ensure it covers everything you wish to address.

A comprehensive letter of instruction may include:

  • A list of all your assets
  • Information about where any tangible assets are located
  • A list of bank, brokerage, investment, and retirement accounts
  • Names and contact information for any financial professionals who handle your assets
  • Usernames and passwords for accounts, social media, email, and websites or apps
  • Specifics about how to disperse personal items like jewelry, family heirlooms, photos, etc.
  • The location of financial and legal documents such as wills, trusts, insurance policies, bank statements, tax returns, birth certificates, and titles or deeds for real estate, and vehicles
  • A list of beneficiaries and their contact information
  • Locations of safe deposit boxes and keys
  • Information about any debts, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages, and contact information for debtors
  • Details and contact information for all insurance policies, especially life insurance
  • Instructions for the care of any pets
  • Instructions for final arrangements
  • Your preferred charities for donations if applicable
  • Any personal messages you’d like to convey to loved ones

A Letter of Instruction Eases Your Loved Ones’ Burden

Having all of this information in one place can make it much more convenient and less stressful for your executor and loved ones. Discussing these matters can be challenging, and a letter of instruction enables them to know exactly what you would have wanted.

A letter of instruction can cut down on conflict, provide comfort, and give family and friends more time and energy to support each other after a loss. Make sure to review and update your letter of intent with your estate planning lawyers every so often to ensure the information in it is up to date.

Our experienced team of attorneys and legal professionals offer comprehensive estate planning services that protect your interests and the legacy you wish to leave behind.