In our modern world it seems that letter writing is a long-lost art. While we may be able to handle most communications through email or text, when it comes to Florida estate planning, letter writing still has an important role to play. In fact, there is one letter in estate planning —the letter of instruction—that has a number of benefits.
In today’s post we’ll discuss the 3 benefits of having a letter of instruction. We’ll also look at why a letter of instruction is important and why you might want to discuss having one with your Florida estate and probate lawyer.
So, let’s get started.
What is a Letter of Instruction?
While they aren’t talked about much, a letter of instruction is an estate planning tool that can be very helpful in the administration of your estate.
The letter is used to assist your representatives (whether that is your personal representative or someone who has a power of attorney to act for you in the event of your incapacitation) in carrying out your wishes by providing them the information they need to do so.
But wait a minute, you say, isn’t that exactly what a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) or power of attorney does?
There are some significant differences between a letter of instruction and a Will or power of attorney. First, both a Will and a power of attorney are formal legal documents that must be properly executed to be valid. If held to be valid by a probate court, both a Will and a power of attorney will be recognized as legally enforceable and their terms carried out.
That isn’t the case with a letter of instruction.
While very important in assisting with the proper and efficient administration of your estate, in contrast, a letter of instruction isn’t a formal legal document. As such, there are no legal requirements that m
he letter of instruction, sometimes called a “letter of intent,” written by you (with the help of your Florida attorney) provides important information to your representatives to enable them to administer your estate (or handle your finances, etc., if you are incapacitated) easily and efficiently.
Even though it is an informal document, it is critical that the letter of instruction be properly written. To be effective—and not simply confusing—it must include clear instructions and sufficient information regarding your estate to make administration easier. When you work with an experienced estate and probate lawyer like Samantha J. Fitzgerald to craft a letter of instruction for your estate, you can be certain of meeting both these goals.
Because it is an informal estate planning document, a letter of instruction can be very beneficial.
Here are just 3 benefits of having a letter of instruction.
1. It allows you to express personal desires or wishes not appropriate in more formal estate planning documents.
Because the letter of instruction is an informal document, there are no legal constraints dictating how it must be written or what can be in it. As a result, you can use a letter of instruction to inform your administrator and/or loved ones of your personal wishes. For example, you might use the letter to describe where you want to be buried or the type of funeral you want.
2. You can leave messages to your heirs.
Another benefit of a letter of instruction is that it allows you to explain your estate planning to your heirs. For example, if you have for any reason left your estate unevenly distributed among your children, you can explain why in the letter. Or, you might use the letter to tell your heirs how you want them to use their inheritance.
3. You can ensure more efficient administration of your estate.
Because the letter of instruction can be updated whenever you want with no legal cost, it is a good place to provide your representative with all necessary information he or she will need to locate your assets and administer the estate. For example, you can include (and should include) a list of all your assets, bank account numbers, passwords and more. This can go far towards taking the guesswork out of locating your assets (both physical and digital) and can help to make the administration of your estate more efficient and cost-effective.
Don’t leave proper administration of your estate to chance. Protecting Your Family is Just a Phone Call Away.
Helping individuals craft complete estate plans that give them with peace of mind is what the attorneys at the Law Offices of Samantha J. Fitzgerald do. We expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process, and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of trusts as well. Contact us here or email us at: [email protected].