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Letter of instructions often added to estate planning

Once an Oklahoma resident has made the decision to create a will or trust, there is certainly a lot to think about. Estate planning ensures a person's loved ones are provided for and assets are protected. However, some people like to add a personal touch to their will or trust, or they may wish to leave a message that is typically not included in a will. This is where a letter of instruction comes in handy.

A letter of instruction may include any personal details the testator wishes to include, but first it should give detailed information about where vital documents can be found. This alone will save loved ones the time and frustration of searching through drawers and closets for any vital information about insurance policies, bank accounts, investments or other assets and liabilities. Computer files and passwords can be included, as well as the location of keys to any storage units or safe deposit boxes.

One may wish to include plans or wishes concerning a funeral, death announcement, organ donation or other details. Some like to use a letter of instruction to reduce family squabbles by clarifying the terms of a will or trust. Such letters may also provide instructions for the care of pets or the distribution of sentimental items. Many like to include personal messages to their loved ones. The letter should also be easy for loved ones to locate in the event of one's death.

Like an estate plan, the letter should be revised over the years. However, it is important to know that having a letter of instruction is not the same as preparing a will. It is not legally binding and does not replace the need for formal estate planning, but it can be a helpful addition to anyone's will. An Oklahoma estate planning attorney can give advice for how to use the letter of instruction as a companion document to a will or trust.

Source: aarp.org, "Letter of Instruction: Preparing Your Intentions for Your Estate", Accessed on May 12, 2017

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