This is the suggested format of a letter we suggest you write in our Free Legal Consumer Guide to making a will. This letter is not legally binding, but it goes with your will just to make things easier for your heirs after your death.
Please read our entire Free Legal Consumer Guide here. Feel free to cut and paste this right into a word processor document and edit as you wish. We hope you find this useful!
I am writing you this letter (which is not to be misconstrued as my formal, legal, last will and testament) in order to make your task of handling my legal and financial matters easier.
Funeral Arrangements: I/we own burial plots at _____ located _____. Their phone number is _____. The certificates are located at ______. (Or) I would like to be buried at _____ located _____. Their phone number is _____. I have the following specific requests for funeral arrangements: ____________.
Will: The original of my will is here: ______. Copies are located with these people: _______. (Note: your personal representative should have a copy.) My attorney also has a copy. My attorney’s contact information is: __________.
Personal Representatives: I have appointed ______ to be my Personal Representative (aka Executor) as I believe he/she is best able to handle the detailed legal and financial tasks which need to be done now. This choice is not meant to be a reflection on anyone else in the family. My Personal Representative should start estate proceedings promptly, and may retain a lawyer to do the work.
Safe Deposit: My safe deposit box is located in ______ (name of bank), which is located _____ (address too, so they get the right branch). The number of the box is ___. The key is located _______. My safe deposit box contains the following items: _______ (list every item in there, as they will be looking for some of them and need to know where to easily find them.)
My attorney is ___ located __. Their phone number is ____.
My accountant is __ located __. Their phone number is ____.
I have life insurance with _______ (name the company), which I purchased through _____ (name the agent) who can be contacted at ______. He/She will be able to give you the forms required to request payment. My policy number is _____. The amount of insurance is $______.
Other insurance: Attached to this letter is a comprehensive list of all insurance policies I own including the name of the company, the name of the agent and their contact information, the policy numbers, what exactly it insures, and the amount of insurance. (Make that list now.)
Financial Statement: Attached to this letter is a complete list of all assets and debts, accurate as of ___. (Make a very detailed list itemizing each asset you own. Include names, account numbers, and contact information for the bank/broker/adviser. List every piece of real estate in which you have any interest, every bank account, every pension plan or retirement plan, and every brokerage or mutual fund account.
Include debts too. Tell them the amount of debt and who to contact for a payoff. Include personal property you own other than personal effects located in your house, such as boats, trailers, cars, valuable hobby collections, etc.)
You can find my most current financial account statements _________. (Specify where your account statements are and how to get them. You should file them together in a filing cabinet in your house.)
Home & Real Estate: Our home is owned by _____ (Jointly? Solely in your name?). My deed, and other important legal documents from the purchase of our home, is located ______. You can find titles to my real and personal property here: _______.
Taxes: You can find copies of my old tax returns in this location: ___. I keep __ years of tax returns there. (You should keep 7 years of them, by the way.)
Miscellaneous: Can you think of something else? Add it here.
Personal statement: Since this will be your final words to your loved ones, put something personal here. It doesn’t have to be a Hallmark card. It can be very simple. Just make your very final words about something personal, not business. If you are stuck for a good idea here, just tell them that you love them. That will be enough for now, and you can add a more personalized statement later when you revise this letter.
Good luck. I hope this idea of writing a simple letter makes things easier for your loved ones.