A letter of intent allows parents to communicate wishes for their children.
Becoming a parent means your life is filled with more joy and love than you could have ever imagined possible.
Being a parent also brings greater responsibility and more worries.
By the way, you never stop being a parent once you become one.
It is impossible to love your children and not be concerned about their well being.
According to a recent The Mercury article titled “Planning Head: For detailed instructions consider a letter of instruction,” estate planning allows you to provide security and care to your children were you ever incapacitated and upon your death.
At the very least, parents should have a last will and testament to designate guardians for their minor children.
For those who have minor children or who have children with disabilities, a trust would provide more guidance and protection over any inheritance you leave them.
Another way you can preserve the well being of your children is through a letter of intent.
Why would someone need a “letter of intent”?
In some instances, the executor of the estate does not have a deep knowledge of the family of the decedent.
With a letter of intent, the parents can clarify their intentions for their children when they die.
Could this be done in the last will and testament or trust documents?
Although there is no rule prohibiting this, personal information is not always suitable for such formal legal documents.
Parents often want to provide more information or may choose to adjust information as their children age.
For this reason, the letter of intent is a good option.
Estate planning for minor children and children or adults with disabilities involves questions like where the child will live, who be their caregiver, and what funds are available for support.
Although this information is included in estate planning documents, the letter of intent allows parents to provide particulars about everyday life for the child.
In addition to including information for the future well being of the children, the letter of intent should also include directions regarding burial and funeral.
This can include whether you want to be buried or cremated, what hymns or special music you would like during your service, and what you would like written on your headstone.
After writing your letter of intent, you should store it in a secure location where it can be accessed by your executor and your loved ones.
Although a safety deposit box seems secure, do not store it in the location!
Your executor will not have access to your safety deposit box until after the court has issued “letters testamentary.”
These are issued after your funeral, making your instructions worthless.
You also should not keep your estate planning documents in a safety deposit box.
If the box is sealed by the bank when it is notified of the death of the owner, the executor will not be able to access the documents and proceed with the administration of the estate.
Should you need to keep the documents in a safety deposit box, you should have additional “owners” with access if the bank permits.
These owners will need to know the location of the key so it can be accessed after your death.
When storing the documents in a secure location, you should keep all pertinent documents together.
This includes the general durable power of attorney, advance health care directive, insurance forms, last will and testament, cemetery deed, the name of advisors, the letter of intent, and the other important information.
If these are stored in your home, a trusted individual will need keys to your home and will need to know the location.
Should you choose to store these documents in a fireproof and waterproof safe, the individual will also need the key or code to the safe.
If you move the documents, you will need to inform the individual of this change.
By organizing your estate planning documents and writing a letter of intent, you will be setting your loved ones up for a more secure future.
Reference: The Mercury (Jan. 19, 2022) “Planning Head: For detailed instructions consider a letter of instruction”