It seems that we get letters and solicitations everyday encouraging us to go “paperless.” These letters are often from banks, credit card companies, and housing lenders. In the past, when a person passed away their loved ones would simply check their mail to find out what financial investments were out there or what bills were owed. As more of us choose to receive our monthly statements via email, it becomes that much more imperative to include a letter of instruction with your estate planning documents.

A letter of instruction gives your loved ones the necessary information needed to handle your affairs. By putting all of the information down in one place, it reduces the risk that crucial information will be missed and can significantly decrease the stress involved in handling an estate. You may want to include the following items in your letter:

  • The contact information for all of your beneficiaries
  • The contact information for your accountant, attorney, and financial advisor
  • The location of all of your important documents including your will, deeds, and insurance policies
  • A list of all of your assets, including account numbers and contact information for financial institutions
  • A list of all of your online accounts and passwords
  • A list of creditors including account numbers
  • The location of any safe deposit boxes
  • Memorial instructions

This letter includes sensitive information and should be kept in a secure place, but be sure to let your loved ones know where to find it!