Your financial life is probably more complicated than you realize. You may have multiple bank, retirement, and investment accounts; insurance policies; a safe-deposit box; and more. You have bills to pay and perhaps a mortgage and other outstanding loans. And then there are the people you might depend on for financial matters: your attorney, financial advisor, insurance agent, and accountant, just to name a few.
Now think for a moment about how your family would navigate this financial sea if you were gone.
A letter of instructions can help guide your loved ones. Because a letter of instructions is not a legal document, you can simply sit down and write it yourself. Here are some topics you may want to include.
A list of documents and their locations, including (but not limited to) your will, financial account documents, insurance policies, tax returns, real estate deeds and mortgage documents, vehicle titles, Social Security and Medicare cards, marriage and/or divorce papers, and birth certificate.
Contact information for the professionals mentioned above as well as others who may be helpful, such as a business partner or trusted friend.
A list of bills and creditors, including when bills and payments are typically due.
Passwords and logins for any important online information.
Your final wishes for burial or cremation, a funeral or memorial service, organ donation, and charitable contributions in your memory.
Keep your letter of instructions in a safe, yet accessible place and tell your loved ones where it can be found. It would also be wise to give the letter to the executor of your estate and other trusted friends or advisors.
A letter of instructions is an important step to help your family during a difficult transition period. Because your wishes may change, be sure to update the letter regularly.
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