What’s missing from your will?

Important information that your family will need is missing from your will.  Most wills only address three basic issues: (1) who will administer your estate (the executor/executrix), (2) how will your remaining assets be distributed – usually as percentages or specifics gifts, and (3) if you have minor children, who will be appointed guardian.  While your will may address all three of these topics, there is a lot more information that your family will need that is not in your will.  The below topics are not commonly found in a will but are addressed by Last Letter.

 

For more information about wills, check out our What is a will? article.

What’s missing from a will.

(1) Overview of estate plan

Your will is only one part of your estate plan.  The will may not reference whether you have any trusts, who are your authorized power of attorneys or even if you have life insurance.  It will be difficult for your family to have the full picture and honor your preferences if they cannot locate these other essential parts of your estate plan.  Last Letter helps you gather information about your estate plan in one place, with instructions and a checklist that your family can use in their time of need.

 

(2) Location of important documents

Does your family know if you have a will?  If they do, would they be able to find where you have the original, signed copy stored?  There are a lot of important documents that your family will need — insurance policies, bank statements, title to any real estate and vehicles, and much more.  Last Letter helps you leave a roadmap for where your family can locate all of these important documents.  You can keep your important documents in their current location and have confidence that your family will be able to find what they need.

 

(3) Financial accounts and other assets

One of the most important steps that your executor will need to do is find all of your financial account and other assets.  These are used pay expenses, debts and the remainder is distributed according to your wishes.  Practically, if you are survived by your spouse, would they know how to find and access all of these accounts? Last Letter helps you easily catalog your financial accounts and other assets to help your family and your executor.  Do not worry, Last Letter does not ask you for your sensitive financial and banking details.

 

(4) Online accounts

How many times do you check Facebook each day?  What about all of your other online accounts — email, data backup, photo sharing, social media, online subscriptions and the like.  You may have preferences about what is done with all of these accounts when you pass.  These accounts may also have important information that your family will need.  Last Letter helps you document these accounts and express any preferences you might have about how these accounts should be handed.  To help protect you and the security of the accounts, Last Letter will never ask for your passwords to these accounts.  Instead, Last Letter gives you the option to use an offline form that you can securely save along with your other important files.

 

(5) Electronic assets and devices

How many phones, tablets, and computers do you have?  Would your family be able to access them without your fingerprint or your password?  More and more of our everyday lives are stored on devices or in the cloud.  Including critical communications, important documents, precious photos, hours of music and other content.  Last Letter allows you to capture the details about these assets and devices for your family.  Last Letter will never ask you to disclose your password.  Instead, we generate an offline form that you can store with your other important documents.  Your Last Letter will include instructions for how your family can find this list and locate these assets.

 

(6) Instructions for the care of any children

While your last will and testament may name a guardian for your children, it is unlikely to include all of the other details that this guardian will need.  For example, are the children beneficiaries of any life insurance policies, do you have preferences about their religion or education, do you have other instructions that the guardian should know.  Last Letter helps you capture these details so that they are accessible to the guardian.

 

(7) Preferences for final arrangements

Do you have strong feelings for what is done with your remains?  Is there a family plot or a pre-arranged or pre-paid funeral package?  Most people don’t like to think about these morbid details, let alone discuss them with their family or friends.  Last Letter gives you to option to confidentially record these details for the future and then convey them when you are ready.

 

(8) Personal letter to your family and friends

Most important, a will is not a very good place to share a heartfelt, final message.  This final message can mean so much to your family and friends during their time of grieving.  Last Letter gives you the ability to include a personalized message to your loved ones.

 

You may be wondering why this important information is not in your will.  There are three good reasons.  First, it would be very expensive to pay your lawyer to include this additional detail.  Second, this information can change frequently and it would be time-consuming to update your will again and again.  Last, during the probate process, your will becomes part of the public record, and many people do not want all of this private information disclosed.

 

The good news is that with Last Letter it is easy to capture this information without updating your will.  You can revise your Last Letter easily as things change.  With Last Letter, you decide with whom and when your information is shared.  You can keep it to yourself or share it with a loved one.

 

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There are hundreds of details that your family will need during this time of need that are not included in a will. It’s never too early to be prepared.

Would your family and friends know what to do if something happened to you?  LastLtr.com helps you securely gather, organize and share all of the important details they will need.  Each Last Letter is fully customized and contains all of the information and preferences that you want to include.  You can create a Last Letter for yourself or for an aging parent.

 

If you have any feedback about this article, you can send us a note at info@lastltr.com.

 

This article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  If you have questions about your legal rights, responsibilities or options, consult a licensed attorney in your state.