A Letter of Last Instructions serves no legal function but gives the people you leave behind insight into the decisions you made, why you made them, and ways to go about handling final arrangements.
We want you to create a hyper-focused Letter of Instructions pertaining to your Will, Trusts, and other practical or logistical planning areas, for example where you keep your passwords or location of documents. These are the things you think require some context or might be confusing for your family to understand.
Perhaps you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to explain yourself or your decisions. That’s cool, because you don’t have to. But if you have three kids, and cut one out of the Will, you might want to explain why. If you set up a Trust that doles funds out to an adult child over time because they can’t be trusted with vast sums of money, make it clear. If you name an unlikely guardian -- like a close friend as opposed to a family member -- you can help the snubbed party to try and understand your reason for doing so.
We mentioned this Letter isn’t legal, but if things get contentious -- heirs fighting over assets, a less than ideal relative trying to get custody of your kids -- then they could be used to sway the court to favor your decision. Or they could be completely ignored. Courts pretty much do what they want and we can only hope for the best.
Write these letters! Ok, that may seem like an oversimplification, but you can begin to create early drafts in a digital document to help crystalize what you’re trying to communicate beyond the legal or financial jargon often found in these forms. It can even be helpful in guiding your decisions while creating these documents, offering clarifying want done and why.
Once you finalize your Will, POA, Trust, or Advance Directive you can finalize this Letter and treat it like a cover page or overview to provide context and humanity to the decisions you made. Just make sure they can be easily found by the people who will appreciate them, which is why storing it alongside these documents can ensure safe delivery.