An important piece of an estate plan (as well as good organization of your paperwork) is to put together a “Love Letter”, also sometimes referred to a “Letter of Instruction”. We have written about them in the past, but in case you are not familiar, a Love Letter is a document that lists important information for your heirs in the event that something should happen to you.
A love letter should detail important information that your loved ones, in their grief, may not know or have difficulty remembering. The love letter should convey the following information:
- A list of all of your assets and their locations, particularly those that are not readily apparent or the existence of which your heirs may not know.
- The location of your will as well as any other estate-related documents. You should also share the location of living wills, advanced directives as well as your wishes pertaining to organ donation.
- All of your important accounts, including URLs or physical locations, user names, passwords, PINs (including answers to ‘secret questions’ that may be required for password resets and 2 factor authentication).
- Contact information for key individuals including: financial advisors, accountants, attorneys, bankers, and brokers.
- Informal directions or instructions to the executor/executrix of your estate, providing instructions on the disposition of heirlooms and sentimental possessions not detailed in your will.
- The location of receipts, forms and any information required to complete tax returns after your death.
- The location of key documents such as titles, deeds, oil and gas leases as well documents such as birth certificate, social security card, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, military discharge papers (DD-214), citizenship papers, burial plot location, etc.
- The names and contact information for creditors including mortgage, car loans, personal loans, credit cards (including due dates, amounts & balances.)
- Life insurance information including provider, account numbers, amounts, beneficiaries.
- Information about your final arrangements - your preference for funeral arrangements, burial or cremation, or if you would like donations in lieu of flowers.
- Who you would like to receive and care for your pets at the time of your death, as well as any details related to their health issues and care.
Creating a “Love Letter” can be one of the greatest gifts you ever give your loved ones. You should not wait to construct one and should routinely revisit them as key information changes. If you have any questions about creating a Letter of Instruction or other pieces of a comprehensive estate plan, contact one of our estate plan experts.