There are many things that a person can do as ras as estate planning. Whether you create a simple will or you use a variety of instruments to accomplish your estate planning objectives, there is one document that any person would do well to create. A letter of instruction is a document that gives your family all of the information that they will need to wrap up all of your business after you pass away.
A letter of instruction is not a legally binding document, but families of people who wrote them can attest to their usefulness. When you are alive, you go through your days knowing what the passwords are for all of your online accounts, where all of your important documents are located, how many bank accounts you have, and many other things like that. Your spouse or other family members might know some things about your day to day affairs, but they are unlikely to know every little detail of your business because there is no need for them to know it. You (and everyone else) take care of all of your business without a thought to how it would get taken care of in your absence. It’s just what we do. Fortunately, you can write a letter of instruction that will give your loved ones all of that information at a time when they will need it most. Writing a letter of instruction is a kind thing to do because it spares your loved ones the task of searching for information that they need while they are mourning your loss.
Letters of instruction vary, but some things you might want to include are the location of your will and other estate planning documents, a list of your life insurance policies and where they are located, a list of the people who you want to get notified of your passing, information and locations for any safe deposit boxes and bank accounts that you have, a list of your investment accounts, and a list of your debts. These suggestions are not an exhaustive list. Your letter of instruction should contain whatever it is that your loved ones will need to know when you pass away, depending on your unique circumstances. For example, if you are in the military or you are a veteran, you would want to include information about who to contact about health insurance, veteran’s benefits, and other things connected with your service.
Once you write your letter of instruction, it is essential that you tell someone about it. Use discretion in deciding whom to tell, because the fewer people who have access to it, the better. Tell them that your attorney has a copy. And give them a copy of their own. Also, ask them not to open it until you pass away, and to keep it in a safe location.
If you want to learn about estate planning in Kansas, contact Wichita estate planning attorney J. Joseph Weber today, at 316-265-7802. You can also schedule consultations through our website. We’re available for consultations Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and occasionally in the evenings or on weekends.