In addition to a Will and/or a Trust, an additional measure you can take to try to minimize conflict or complications after your death is by creating a Letter of Instruction. A Letter of Instruction typically includes sections on funeral arrangements, financial and personal affairs, and the distribution of personal effects.
First, you can make the lives of your loved ones easier and relieve a bit of stress from their shoulders by dictating a number of different funeral arrangements in your Letter of Instruction. You should pull together a list of all the people and organizations to be notified upon your death, including their contact information. Clearly spell out your desire to either be buried in a plot or cremated and any important directions regarding this choice, such as if you have paid for any funeral arrangements in advance or if this needs to be taken care of at the time of your death. It is also important to mention in this section if you wish to be an organ or tissue donor.
Second, you should address any financial and/or personal affairs. You should make it easy to reach anyone involved with financial matters by including correct contact information for important agencies, such as your attorney, employer, insurance company, and any financial organizations. Also make sure to note all information about your financial accounts, including your checking, savings, and retirement accounts as well as your credit card accounts. You can include details on any charitable organizations you wish to donate to in this section. You should also lay out the location of important physical documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorse papers, diplomas, and more. Getting all of this information together in one, safe place can take a lot of stress off your family in a time when they are already grieving.
Finally, you can go into greater detail on the distribution of your personal possessions. You may have already mentioned the distribution of assets in your Will or Trust, but in this step you can mention it again or even take it further in order to avoid disputes. You can get into the nitty gritty in your Letter of Instruction, dictating who should get smaller items that may have been overlooked in previous estate planning documents, including any day-to-day items like electronics, books, clothes, dishes, ect. You should also mention any arrangements for the care of pets in this section as well.
For more information and for help with all your estate planning needs, contact Horn & Johnsen today by visiting: https://hornjohnsen.com/contact-us/