Additional Non-Legal Documents in an Estate Plan

Non-legal documents can play a beneficial role in an estate plan even if they’re not legally binding. Certain non-legal documents provide written clarity and guidance on your wishes for the future. Your heirs will appreciate having specific instructions to follow, especially in times of grief or ambiguity.

Letter of Instructions

Many families find that they’re not only grieving the loss of a loved one; they’re also overwhelmed by the actual process of having to find the person’s Will and figure out if there’s a safety deposit box, what bank accounts they held, and which life insurance companies to contact. A Letter of Instructions (LOI) is a written document that tells your chosen fiduciaries where your possessions are located and how to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated or deceased. An LOI can contain anything you think is important; however, we recommend that it at least include information about:
  • Your professional advisors
  • Financial accounts, including pensions or military benefits
  • Bills you pay and debts owed
  • Insurance policies
  • Deeds and titles
If you become incapacitated, it’s also helpful for your healthcare agent to have information about your medical providers, medical conditions, and medications. Lastly, you don’t want to leave your loved ones guessing about your wishes regarding funeral services, burial, cremation, and organ donation. Now is the time to articulate what you want. The LOI needs to be in a secure location, and your fiduciaries need to know where to find it. You can create and store your LOI in any way that works for you. Some choose a binder with paper documents, while others use templates and end of life planners that can be found online and stored electronically.

For more information, please see:
Letter of Instructions: Significantly Reduce the hassle on your chosen fiduciaries (Updated 8/2022)
(Video) Letter of Instructions

Ethical Wills

Ethical Wills are a way to pass meaningful information on to family members and keep memories and legacies alive through generations. While they aren’t legal documents, Ethical Wills do offer an opportunity to share:
  • What is important to you and what has shaped your life
  • Experiences, significant decisions, and acquired knowledge you wish to pass along
  • Your values, philosophy, morals, and religious beliefs
  • The legacy you wish to leave and your hopes and dreams for your loved ones
An Ethical Will should explain anything you feel is important for your loved ones to understand about you and the family. When an Ethical Will is delivered to loved ones, it is usually a profound and moving experience. It can be shared with others while you are living or upon your death. You will want to store your Ethical Will with your legal estate planning documents.

For more information, please see:
Ethical Wills 2.0: Old School and Next Level Options to Communicate What is Really Important to Your Loved Ones
(Video) Ethical Wills
(Video) Why Should You Create an Ethical Will? – Richard Morgan Explains

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