208-664-8980

1875 N. Lakewood Dr.
Suite 102
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814

Estate Read Time: 3 min

Put It in a Letter

American actor Lee Marvin once said, “As soon as people see my face on a movie screen, they knew two things: first, I'm not going to get the girl, and second, I'll get a cheap funeral before the picture is over.”

Most people don’t spend too much time thinking about their own funeral, and yet many of us have a vision about our memorial service or the handling of our remains. A letter of instruction can help you accomplish that goal.

A letter of instruction is not a legal document; it’s a letter written by you that provides additional and more personal information regarding your estate. It can be addressed to whomever you choose, but typically, a letter of instruction is directed to the executor, family members, or beneficiaries.1

Make a Cheat Sheet

Think of a letter of instruction as a “cheat sheet” to your estate. Here are a few ideas and concepts that may be included:

  1. The location of important legal documents, such as your will, insurance policies, titles to automobiles, deeds to property, etc.
  2. A list of financial assets, including savings and checking accounts, stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts. Be sure to include account numbers, PINs, and passwords where applicable.
  3. A list of pensions or profit-sharing plans, including the location of their explanatory booklets.
  4. The location of your latest tax return and Social Security statements.
  5. The location of any safe deposit boxes and their keys.

Identify Funeral Wishes

A letter of instruction is also a good place to leave burial or cremation wishes. You should consider giving the location of your cemetery plot deed, if you have one. You may even wish to specify which hymns or speakers you would like included in your memorial service. Although a letter of instruction is not legally binding, your heirs will probably be glad to know how you would like to be remembered. It also may be helpful to leave a list of contact information for people who should be notified in the event of your death.

There is no “best way” to write a letter of instruction. It can be written in your style and reflect your personality, or it can be written to simply convey information. You should decide what type of letter best fits your estate strategy.

1. Investopedia.com, 2021

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Share |
 

Related Content

Money that Buys Good Health is Never Ill Spent

Money that Buys Good Health is Never Ill Spent

It's important to make sure your retirement strategy anticipates health-care expenses.

Ask a Financial Professional: I Got a Big Raise. Now What?

Ask a Financial Professional: I Got a Big Raise. Now What?

You got a pay raise – what should you do with it? Find tips on how to avoid tax surprises and lifestyle creep, and why paying

Building a Solid Financial Foundation

Building a Solid Financial Foundation

Sustain financial well-being or create wealth through these actions.

 

Have A Question About This Topic?







Thank you! Oops!

3 Estate Challenges for Blended Families

If you’ve been re-married or divorced, these family structures may present some unique challenges. This article will help your clients with blended families think and prepare their estate strategy.

Protection Against Uninsured Drivers

You’re hit by an uninsured driver. Now what? Are you protected against financial losses?

4 Ways Thinking Long-Term Can Improve Your Everyday Life

Financial planning often doesn’t take place on a beach. But the next time you find yourself there, try this experiment, courtesy of management and motivational guru Stephen R. Covey: You’ll need a mason jar and an assortment of big rocks, smaller gravel, sand, and water.

View all articles

Contributing to an IRA?

Determine if you are eligible to contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA.

Comparing Investments

This calculator compares the net gain of a taxable investment versus a tax-favored one.

Federal Income Tax

Use this calculator to estimate your income tax liability along with average and marginal tax rates.

View all calculators

Your Cash Flow Statement

A presentation about managing money: using it, saving it, and even getting credit.

Long-Term-Care Protection Strategies

The chances of needing long-term care, its cost, and strategies for covering that cost.

5 Smart Investing Principles

Principles that can help create a portfolio designed to pursue investment goals.

View all presentations

Questions to Consider When Buying a Vacation Home

Doing your research is key before buying a vacation home.

Don’t Myth Out on Whole Life

Whole life insurance can help protect what matters most: your family, your assets, and your legacy.

Safeguard Your Digital Estate

If you died, what would happen to your email archives, social profiles and online accounts?

View all videos