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Do you need a letter of intent?

When you're creating your estate plan, you might be focused on the will and trusts, but there are other aspects of the plan that you need to consider. One of these is the letter of intent. While this isn't a legally binding document, it can prove to be very valuable in the days immediately following your passing.

The letter of intent can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. The point of it is to provide special notes to your family members, friends and those involved in your side. This document can't be used to supersede a will or trusts, but it can go beyond the points included in those.

The information you include is up to you, but there are some common things that are included. Consider these:

  • Funeral plans: You can make note of where you want the funeral and any specific wishes you have for it. Think about the music or special readings you might want.
  • Account passwords: Your social media accounts and other online accounts require you to log in before you access them. If you want someone to have access to these, leave the usernames and passwords.
  • Document locations: You can tell your loved ones where they can find important documents, such as tax returns, life insurance policies, deeds, titles, birth certificates and Social Security cards.
  • List of assets: You should tell your loved ones the location of artwork and similar assets. You may also include advice about how to handle these, such as where to sell them if they don't want to keep them.

Your loved ones can access the letter of intent immediately when you pass away since this document doesn't have to go through probate. Some people choose to leave special notes to their loved ones in the letter of intent as a way to offer comfort to them.

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