Letter of Instructions
Providing Clarity & Direction for Your Executor or Trustee
A Letter of Instruction is an informal, written communication to your loved ones and others who may serve in a fiduciary role. The purpose behind Letters of Instruction is to help your fiduciaries and family carry out your estate planning intent and administer your estate and trusts.
Your Letter of Instructions should provide clarity and critical information. It should include:
- Names, titles, and contact information for your professional advisors (such as your CPA, attorney, and financial planner)
- A listing of assets and debts including company names and contact information, account information, and online or telephone passwords needed to access each account
- Factors and advice you would like any trustee to consider in administering a trust, such as the types of distributions you would like him or her to make (or not make) to your children.
Please note, however, that a Letter of Instructions should not contain any information designed to specify how your assets should be divided up amongst your loved ones. That information should be provided only through your Will (and any Revocable Living Trust) and beneficiary designations, as part of a carefully coordinated estate plan. If your Letter of Instructions contains asset distribution instructions, those instructions are not legally binding, but if they contradict the instructions contained in your Will and beneficiary designations, they can create disharmony and confusion.