As you consider your end-of-life wishes, you may have many details on your mind. You may also wonder what documents are appropriate for housing these details and providing your family with necessary instruction when the time comes. A variety of estate planning tools exist that can help with this endeavor, but you may also want to consider less-formal documentation.
In particular, a letter of last instruction could be immensely useful to your family and your estate plan over all. This letter is not a legally-binding document, but it can provide a considerable amount of useful information. It can also include any information you believe your family needs, whether it is information about your estate or more sentimental thoughts.
Information and locations
The letter of last instruction can include information that your family may need to settle your estate or to carry out your funeral wishes. You can also make sure to include the locations of important estate planning documents, like your will, so that your executor or other applicable party can find the records when needed.
As you work on your letter, you may want to consider including the following information:
- Information on your funeral wishes and any arrangements you may have already made
- Location of your birth certificate and social security information
- Information about any benefits your family may receive after your death, including life insurance payouts or pension plans
- Location of any safe deposit boxes you may have used to keep assets safe
- Inventory of safe deposit boxes
- Financial information, including outstanding debts, tax information, loans and bank accounts
- Personal messages to your surviving loved ones
- Inventory of your personal property and household items
- Location of titles, deeds and other ownership-related documents
It is also wise to sign and date your letter of last instruction. Though it is not a legally-binding document, a signature and date could help your family ensure that the letter contains your intended and most recent wishes.
A comprehensive estate plan
While this letter could play an important role in your estate plan, you also need to ensure that your plan includes other vital documents and that you update them regularly. Working with your Ohio legal counsel can help you understand how a letter of last instruction may play a role in your overall estate plan and what other tools may help you best express your wishes.