Insights + Resources

Put it in a Letter

Aug 14, 2019

Paper and pen
Express your wishes.

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

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 instruction can help you accomplish that goal.

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

Make a Cheat Sheet

Think of a letter of instruction 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.
  • Information on your social media accounts and how they can be accessed.

 Identify Funeral Wishes

A letter of instruction 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 instruction 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 instruction. 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.

Tags:

More Insights

Apr 21, 2021

Recently, you may have seen reports that a record-low number of homes are available for sale—roughly 1.03 million nationwide. If you compare that to the average number of homes for sale during the past 10 years, it’s no surprise that many hopeful homebuyers are having issues securing a home. But why exactly is the housing … Continue reading “Forces Driving the Housing Market”

Apr 19, 2021

It can be exhausting trying to keep up with the whims of Wall Street. Lately, the financial markets have been fixated on federal taxes and what may be proposed on Capitol Hill in the weeks and months ahead. Wall Street’s focus on taxes closely follows its attention on the 10-year Treasury yield. And it wasn’t … Continue reading “The Whims of Wall Street”

Apr 16, 2021

President Joe Biden introduced the much-anticipated American Jobs Plan, which outlines an approach to spend roughly $2.2 trillion on the nation’s infrastructure and other projects. As part of the legislative process, the Biden administration also laid out a proposal for paying for the domestic investment. The plan includes raising the corporate tax rate to 28% … Continue reading “Paying for the Infrastructure Bill”

Apr 14, 2021

Financially, many of us associate the spring with taxes – but we should also associate December with important IRA deadlines. This year, like 2020, will see a few changes and distinctions. December 31, 2021, is the deadline to take your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from certain individual retirement accounts.

Apr 12, 2021

There’s an old Wall Street maxim that says, “markets climb a wall of worry.” And these days, there’s plenty to worry about with the trend in long-term interest rates and bonds.

Insights + Resources >