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A letter of instruction can give your estate plan context

Thinking about death is hard. Most people avoid it as much as possible. Yet, it’s a necessary contemplation if you want to engage in estate planning. While this process is certainly about figuring out how you want your assets to be dispersed upon your passing, there’s more to it than just the legal language used to effectuate your goals.

Many people who engage in estate planning want to leave something behind that explains why they have left assets in a given way or describes how they hope assets will be used. This is where a letter of instruction can prove beneficial. While it has limited legal significance, this document can help wrap up loose ends and let your loved ones know the intent behind your estate plan.

There’s more that a letter of instruction can do, too. You can also use this document to identify the physical location of your assets, lay out the location of bank and other accounts, and provide contact information for important individuals like insurance agents and bankers. You can also specify how you want sentimental pieces of property to pass on, although if you do so then it’s best to reference this document in your formal estate plan. You can even use a letter of instruction to dictate how you want your funeral to play out, down to the kind of music you want to be played.

So, as you can see, the letter of instruction can provide a personal touch to your estate plan. It certainly doesn’t replace an estate plan, but the intentions contained within a letter of instruction can help you navigate the process of developing your formal plan. What is important to keep in mind is that estate planning is entirely customizable, thereby giving you and your loved ones the outcome that you think is best.

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