There are several types of estate plan letters. Whether you should write a particular type of estate plan letter depends on your circumstances and your estate planning objectives. One of the most essential estate planning letters is a guardianship letter for parents with minor children. A guardianship letter explains why you named a particular individual as guardian of your minor children in your will.A guardianship letter is not a legally binding document. Nevertheless, it could have an impact on the outcome of any legal dispute arising over guardianship of your children if something happens to you. If more than one relative or friend may expect to become your child’s guardian, a guardianship letter is also a way to explain why a particular person was chosen as guardian and possibly prevent a dispute. See
Will and Trust Disputes.
Another type of estate planning letter is a Letter to Pet Guardian with instructions for the care of your pet.In a letter to pet guardian, you share important details about how to care for your pet on a daily basis. This information is essential to ensuring your pet guardian understands the type and amount of food, exercise, social interaction, and veterinary care your pet requires. Writing a letter to pet guardian also allows you to share information on behaviors and characteristics that make your pet unique. Without detailed information on the background of each animal, a pet guardian may not understand how to make your pet feel comfortable and secure.Sometimes it is difficult to put your thoughts and feelings in writing, especially when dealing with a subject as deep as your own mortality. A good place to start is reviewing sample forms of estate planning letters and examples of how these types of letters are used. To read the estate plan letter one parent used to explain her decision to leave an inheritance to her biological children but not her stepchildren, see Estate Plan Letter. For sample forms and examples of other types of estate plan letters, see the list on the right.
Pennyborn.com features several free form letters you can use as templates to write your own estate planning letters. Some of these estate planning letters include:Child Guardian Letter for parents explaining choice of guardian.Last Wishes Letter for funeral planning and memorial preferences.
Letter to Guardian with important information about your children and your preferences on how they should be raised.Letter to Pet Guardian with instructions for the care of your pets. Letter of Instruction with information that will be helpful in settling your estate.
Last Wishes Letter
If your memorial preferences for your final arrangements are very basic and you are comfortable with how you believe your next of kin will carry them out, you may not need to write a last wishes letter. However, if you believe your family or friends will object to the type of funeral arrangements, burial, cremation or ash scattering you requested in your estate plan, writing a
Last Wishes Letter may be helpful. In a last wishes letter, you outline the reasons you rquested certain final arrangements. It provides an opportunity for you to ask your survivors to honor your memorial preferences and respond to any concerns they may have. A last wishes letter can be very short or long and detailed. It is up to you.Regardless of whether you decide to write a last wishes letter to store with your estate planning documents, you should complete a memorial preferences planner or Last Wishes Form that provides instructions on the type of funeral arrangements you want, because your loved ones may not know your preferences on a viewing, cremation, burial, and final resting place.
No Substitute for Estate Planning Documents
Writing estate plan letters can complement your estate plan by providing valuable information to your friends and relatives about matters such as your last wishes, how you want your minor children to be raised, and how to care for the pets or animals you leave behind. However, estate planning letters are not a substitute for making a will, living trust, power of attorney, living will, advanced health care directive or any other estate planning document. See Wills and Trusts. To make a valid will indicating how you want your property distributed after you die, you must execute a will that complies with all the requirements for making a valid will in the state where you are domiciled. See state will forms. The same applies to appointing a health care proxy or surrogate, making a living will to indicate your wishes regarding life support and related medical care, making a power of attorney to appoint an agent to handle your finances if you are incapacitated, etc. Writing an estate plan letter is not a substitute for making the type of estate planning document required to address each type of estate planning issue mentioned above.Think of an estate planning letter as an informal, informational document that you write after your estate planning documents have been executed in accordance with applicable state laws. Estate plan letters can be stored with your estate planning documents as additional documents to be reviewed along with your estate plan. Alternatively, you can keep your estate plan letters in a place where they will easily be located.