What Should I Include in an Executor Letter?

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Executors can benefit from personalized instructions.

You have set up your last will and testament.

Congratulations.

You know what you own.

You have decided who will inherit your assets when you die.

You have even selected an executor (also known as a “personal representative”) for your estate.

According to a recent The Wall Street Journal article titled “Why You Should Write a Letter to Your Executor—and What to Say in It,” it is wise to do more than merely select your executor for your estate.

Support your executor with a letter of instruction.
A letter of instruction can provide much needed support to your executor.

The role of an executor is a significant responsibility.

This individual would benefit from a letter of instruction.

By writing a letter to your executor, you can clarify your intentions and goals.

What should you share in your letter?

Your thoughts about wealth.

Explain how you came to build your estate in the first place.

Do you have wisdom to share regarding how to invest, budget, and set long-term goals?

Are you leaving assets to your heirs to be used for specific purposes?

Sharing these thoughts with your executor can provide direction to your loved ones.

Describe family dynamics.

Your executor will be working closely with your family while executing your estate.

Knowing your family history, family member personalities, and interpersonal relationships can help your executor to do his or her job without triggering conflicts.

If you have concerns about specific loved ones because of substance abuse, shady spouses, or estrangement, explain these upfront.

Outline your values.

The wealth you leave is not limited to the number in your bank account.

Your legacy includes your wisdom, your work ethic, and your love.

Take the time to teach your loved ones what is truly important to you.

This will help your loved ones continue your legacy long after you are gone.

Encourage your executor to say no.

Do you have heirs who are immature or financially irresponsible?

Would they squander their inheritance?

If yes, express what you would like beneficiaries to do with their inheritances.

Empower the executor to follow your instructions even when facing pressure from your heirs.

With a letter to your executor, you can provide detailed instructions for the transfer of assets.

If you desire greater control over your wealth distribution than is provided with this letter and last will and testament, consider utilizing a trust as part of your estate plan.

An experienced estate planning attorney will help you create a plan to best meet your unique needs.

Reference: The Wall Street Journal (April 8, 2020) “Why You Should Write a Letter to Your Executor—and What to Say in It”