How Can A Letter of Wishes Help Your Will?

March 12, 2016
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Preparing your estate for a smooth transition to your heirs is not something most of us typically like to dwell on. But, with a little forethought you can help to save your family and loved ones any additional pain, unnecessary costs, or disagreements.   Most of us already have a standard will. Having a proper and up to date will is a necessary start for handling all the basic legal requirements for passing on your estate. But, there are a number of items that a will alone typically does not address. To deal with these topics, we recommend a Letter of Wishes. The Letter of Wishes is designed to accompany the will, and makes sure that all of your last requests are known and clearly understood. And, it also is designed to avoid unnecessary delays, errors in executing your wishes, and helps minimize the costs involved for your loved ones.

Here are several suggestions you may consider including in you or your loved one’s Letter of Wishes:

  1. People to be notified at the time of death. Certain people and institutions need to be notified at time of death, including your lawyer, executor, trustee, and accountant, along with federal pension authorities. Relatives and special friends will want to know as soon as possible, so providing the names, addresses, emails, and telephone numbers will make it easier for the person assuming this   responsibility.
  2. Listing advanced funeral arrangements. Be sure you communicate funeral arrangements and last wishes (e.g., body burial, type of casket, cremation, and music requests).
  3. Location of personal papers. List the exact location of personal documents, including birth and marriage certificates, diplomas, military papers, and so on.
  4. List of bank accounts and bank locations. List all bank accounts by name of institution, branch address, and type of account. Also give the location of canceled checks and bank statements with the number and location of the safety deposit box and key.
  5. Listing of credit cards. List by issuer and card number.
  6. Location of deed and mortgage papers. Indicate where the documents are located, the date for renewal, and the holding institution.
  7. Listing of insurance policies. List life, auto, home, veterans, medical, and other insurance policies together with the responsible agent’s name and location of these documents.
  8. Listing of vehicles, including registration and other papers. Provide the location of all keys and          operating instructions if needed.
  9. Income and property taxes paid and owing. Provide the location of income tax returns for the past three years, record of property tax amounts and due dates.
  10. Investments, including mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. List all stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit and other investments. Indicate the location of the investments and the name and address of           the financial advisors. If owning any gold or silver coins or bars, provide the location and details.
  11. Listing and location of valuables. List all jewelry and other valuables, including the names of those to whom the articles are to be given.
  12. Trusts, loans, money owed. List any trusts, and provide the name and address of the trustee. Record all loans and other accounts payable.
  13. Special survivor benefits. List all possible sources of benefits not named in the will—government                  pension, veteran’s pension, employee pension, fraternal associations and so forth.
  14. Website logins and passwords. List of computer and website login, pin, and password information, including for general computer login, email account(s), social media accounts, file hosting services, and online banking, retirement and investment services.

It’s also a good idea to let at least two other family members know where the will and accompanying letter are stored and the name and address of your lawyer. Better yet, give a copy of the accompanying letter to your spouse, and give at least one other copy to a trusted friend or family member who does not live with you. Lastly, if you are named as the executor of another’s estate you may want to ask that person to draft a Letter of Wishes as well. Completing these steps will take you a little time now, but will save your loved ones much more time and difficulty later on. And with a Letter of Wishes you can feel more at ease knowing that all of your final plans will be understood and fulfilled.

At HFG Wealth Management, we embrace a holistic method of financial planning known as Financial Life Planning™. We believe this is a financially effective and personally rewarding approach to creating a practical, lasting financial plan. As financial professionals using the life planning approach, our purpose is to assist individuals and families in creating a long-term vision that is consistent with their core values. At HFG we recognize that life events and life transitions can impact your financial responsibilities and your vision of the future. We are here to provide you with tips and strategies to get you started and help you reach your financial and life goals at every stage. For more information, please visit www.hfgwm.com or call 832.585.0110.

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