American actor Lee Marvin once said, “As soon as people see my face on a movie screen, they knew two things: first, I'm not going to get the girl, and second, I'll get a cheap funeral before the picture is over.”1
Most people don’t spend too much time thinking about their own funeral, and yet many of us have a vision about our memorial service or the handling of our remains. A letter of instructions can help you accomplish that goal.
A letter of instructions is not a legal document; it’s a letter written by you that provides additional and more-personal information regarding your estate. It can be addressed to whomever you choose, but typically, letters of instructions are directed to the executor, family members, or beneficiaries.
Think of a letter of instructions as a “cheat sheet” to your estate. Here are a few ideas and concepts that may be included:
A letter of instructions is also a good place to leave burial or cremation wishes. You should consider giving the location of your cemetery plot deed, if you have one. You may even wish to specify which hymns or speakers you would like included in your memorial service. Although a letter of instructions is not legally binding, your heirs will probably be glad to know how you would like to be remembered. It also may be helpful to leave a list of contact information for people who should be notified in the event of your death.
There is no “best way” to write a letter of instructions. It can be written in your style and reflect your personality, or it can be written to simply convey information. You should decide what type of letter best fits your estate strategy.
If you would like help coordinating estate plans, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402.430.3092 to replace fear with facts.
1. Brainyquote.com, 2019
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.