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 |

Free Retirement Guide

It's never too soon to start preparing for retirement. But do you know what to look out for? Download our free ebook, "Retire Happy: A Simple Guide to Your Next Big Adventure."



Thank you! Oops!
 

Related Content

6 Tips on Ways to Spend Your Money for Happiness

6 Tips on Ways to Spend Your Money for Happiness

Can money buy happiness? Discover spending habits that can increase your satisfaction today and throughout your retirement.

5 Ways for Caretakers to Make Your Well-Being a Priority

5 Ways for Caretakers to Make Your Well-Being a Priority

Studies show that now more than ever, today’s women are disproportionately responsible for caring for children, doing laundry, cooking and cleaning, despite many having full-time careers. What’s more, when compared to their male counterparts, women are also more likely to report having difficulty finding the time to manage their physical, mental and emotional health.

Who's On Your Financial Dream Team?

Who's On Your Financial Dream Team?

On a team, all players count, but some key positions are more critical to success.

 

Have A Question About This Topic?







Thank you! Oops!

6 Tips to Manage Market Stress

Things you and clients can do to manage market stress

Does Your Child Need to File an Income Tax Return?

When your child has income, there’s a good chance that he or she will need to report it and pay taxes.

4 Things to Consider While You’re Planning When to Retire

As the decision to retire approaches, you’ll find the choice of when to retire is rarely black and white.

View all articles

Inflation & Retirement

Estimate how much income may be needed at retirement to maintain your standard of living.

Self-Employed Retirement Plans

Estimate the maximum contribution amount for a Self-Employed 401(k), SIMPLE IRA, or SEP.

Bi-Weekly Payments

This calculator estimates the savings from paying a mortgage bi-weekly instead of monthly.

View all calculators

5 Smart Investing Strategies

There are some smart strategies that may help you pursue your investment objectives

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.

View all presentations

What to Do When You Lose Your Wallet

Ever lost your wallet? Frustrating. Here’s what you can do to keep yourself safe.

The Fed and How It Got That Way

Here is a quick history of the Federal Reserve and an overview of what it does.

Timing Your Retirement

This short video illustrates why knowing when to retire can be a crucial part of your strategy.

View all videos