Create a Letter of Instruction and Emergency

Nobody is getting out of this alive!  The one thing that is guaranteed in this life is that it will end.

Save your spouse and/or loved ones the time of having to scramble for your key information in the case of an emergency including death.   They’ll appreciate you spending the time to prepare and lay everything out clearly.  They’ll also be able to act quicker to get things in order in case you are not able to take care of things.  You know as well as I do that unexpected things happen, so why not be prepared?

A Letter of Instruction and Emergency is not a legal document like a will but is intended to be a supplement to your will and other important documents.  It gives you the flexibility of adding a personal touch to your final wishes that a will doesn’t allow.  You can think of it as a cheat sheet to all of the important items that need to be taken care of if you’re not able to.  The Letter of Instruction and Emergency gives you the ability to provide the details of how you’d like things to be done in the case of death.

Nowadays things aren’t as straight forward as they used to be, especially with all of the online accounts that most of us have.  The Letter of Instruction should list all of your financial institutions, important online accounts, life insurance information, retirement accounts, and information pertinent to end of life.

Here are a few key items that you should consider including in your Letter of Instruction and Emergency.

  • The location of important documents such as your will.  This would be birth certificates, social security cards, and marriage certificate to name a few.
  • Information about investment accounts, life insurance policies, and safety deposit box.
  • Your instructions for funeral and burial.
  • The location of documents regarding your important household item and warranties.
  • Information for online accounts including email and even social media.
  • The names and contact information for people and institutions that need to be notified in the event of your death.

Keep your Letter of Instruction and Emergency updated every now and then.  I’d say revisiting it once per year is a good idea.  If you wait several years to refresh it or forget about it after you initially create it then it may be more of a hindrance than a help when it’s needed.

Let your loved ones know where your letter is.  It will be pretty useless if nobody knows where to find it.

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