A Guide to Writing a Letter of Last Instructions

A letter of last instructions is an informal document written to convey the wishes of an individual at the time of their death. It can be written at home without an attorney present, and while it is not a substitute for a will, it is an ideal complement to it. Letters of last instructions contain a range of information, starting with details like the writer’s wishes for the cremation service. They also contain information that is necessary for the handling of an estate.

Financial details are crucial when it comes to these letters. The document should contain information about bank accounts, insurance policies, pensions, and any memberships to organizations that may help with the cost of the cremation service. It is also important to include the location of identification papers, like Social Security cards, birth certificates and citizenship documents.

When creating a letter of last instructions, it is important for the writer to state who they wish to be contacted at the time of their death, and provide the necessary contact information. In addition to loved ones and close friends, the writer can include details for business associates and legal professionals. They can also take the opportunity to leave instructions regarding business and financial concerns, going into greater detail than information that may be included in the will. Many people also use the letter of last instructions as a chance to elaborate on or explain the terms of their will. It is a good way to ensure that the writer’s wishes are clear and there is no ambiguity when it comes to matters of inheritance or insurance policies.

If plans have already been made for the individual’s memorial, the letter is the best place to make available that information for loved ones. It is also advisable to include instructions for the cremation service and other aspects of the memorial. One advantage of this document is that memorial and cremation plans can be made and written while discussing the matter with family members, so there are no uncertainties when it is time to make the arrangements. The writer can also go over the plans with a chosen clergy member.

Unlike a will, a letter of last instructions is most effective if it is easily accessible. Several copies should be made, which can be shared with select family members as well as the individual’s attorney. It is also advisable to update the document regularly, so that any changes that take place in the writer’s personal, financial, or business life are taken into account. The consequences of an out-of-date letter of last instructions are not as great from a legal standpoint as those that can occur with an outdated will, but it is still best to ensure that the information remains accurate and useful.

Used properly, a letter of last instructions can be extremely helpful in dealing with personal and financial matters after death.

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Comments 3 comments

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 15 months ago from USA

Sobering but important information.

EGamboa profile image

EGamboa 15 months ago from West Palm Beach

Excellent advice for any adult.

thef8studios 13 months ago

According to my opinion, if you can make someone realize the importance of the pre-planning the funeral ceremony, it is the best thing you have done for them. Excellent share, I really appreciate it...

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