A free downloadable sample Letter of Instruction file in Microsoft Word format is available for download. Use this Word document to draft your personal "Letter of Instruction" for your loved ones. It only takes a few minutes to put this together and once completed you are well on your way to finalizing your plans.
Sample Letter of Instruction
Estate Planning Document
Created by ______________
This binder was prepared for my [wife or husband] and our children if either myself and/or [enter spouse name] are incapacitated for any reason. [enter spouse name] (my wife or husband), [enter son's name] (our son), and/or [enter daughter's name] (our daughter) are to be provided this binder to manager our estate if we are incapacitated or upon our death.
The “Survivor’s Report” - located in this binder - will provide much of the information you need to manage our assets or distribute them upon our deaths. You will find key contacts, all account numbers, key passwords and general instructions in this report. Use any associated files located at [enter file location] for additional and more complete information. Read the Survivor’s Report front-to-back and highlight key passwords, information, key and safe locations, safety deposit box information and other data that you find important.
Original copies of our Wills and Trusts are located [enter location]. The trusts transfer many of the assets that [enter spouse name] and I own individually direct to our heirs without going through probate. What this means is that our heirs will be able to receive their assets soon after our deaths and the estate will avoid probate costs. An abbreviated file is located [specify file location] titled Survivor’s Information and a complete copy of the binder is located in our Safety Deposit box # [enter box number] at the [enter bank name] , [enter bank location]. This information was compiled [enter date] and it will be undated as situations change and at least annually.
Most of this information is stored electronically in Willmaker Plus and Quicken Pro on my [specify computer] with backup files on CD or copies are available from [attorney's name and number]. The password for the Quicken program is [enter password] . All computer and other passwords and user IDs are listed in Section 8 of this binder. Backup files for many programs are located in the Safety Deposit Box. [Enter additional instructions as appropriate] .
Safety deposit box keys are located [specify location] . Other keys that you will need are located [Specify location] . [enter spouse name] can get access to the safe deposit box since it is registered in both our names. However, if both of us are incapacitated [enter designated executors names], our designated co executors in our wills, will have to have either a Power of Attorney if we are incapacitated or provide a death certificate to the bank to get access to our safe deposit box at [enter bank name and location].
[General information about other investments, savings bonds, locations, etc.]
[enter spouse name] can keep savings bonds as long as she wishes. They will stop earning interest 25 years from the issue date. All [enter spouse name] must do to cash them in is to take them to any bank along with a certified death certificate. [enter spouse name] can also change the registration on the bonds and add a POD (Pay on Death) designation for each bond as appropriate.
If you are reading this because one or both of us are deceased be sure to request CERTIFIED death certificates from the mortuary, at least [specify number] copies. You will need to send certified death certificates to each account, to the Office of Personnel Management to report my death and start [enter spouse name] survivor’s annuity, to change asset registrations for up to [enter number of stocks, mutual funds, etc.; owned] or more individual stocks that we own, and for insurance payments, etc.
I compiled a check list in section two of this binder to help you through the major steps that will need your attention. I also prepared key forms that you must submit to the Office of Personnel Management upon my death so that [enter spouse name] will continue to receive a government annuity and be able to pay bills, etc. I’m sure I missed things that will need to be taken care of, however, I believe I covered most of the major areas that will need attention to insure [enter spouse name] receives her annuity and that you will be able to change registration and ownership for key assets.
There are two books that I have that you can use to help you through this process, “Plan Your Estate” and “The Executor’s Handbook.” They are located [specify location] . They can answer many of your questions. Also, the Wills and Trusts have instructions with them in the back of the documents for executors.
Add a personal closing – (Sample follows)
I know this all sounds impersonal and calculated. We must plan to insure that our heirs receive what [enter spouse name] and I have worked a lifetime to accumulate. I compiled this information because I wanted to make this trying time easier for the ones I love. This may be a difficult time but life does go on and I wanted to smooth the way even in death. [enter spouse name] and I want you to enjoy your lives and our intent was to make life a little less hectic for you and our future grandchildren.
Part 6 will discuss the Checklist with sample forms and the “Survivor’s Report” section 3 of the binder.