Monday, May 1, 2017

Letter of Last Instruction

Recently I have been giving some thought to developing a Letter of Last Instruction. Even though I don’t planning on leaving this world soon you never know what tomorrow brings. I am single and have grown children. I know that if I completed a letter of last instruction for my children it would alleviate some of the stress that comes with a loved one passing away.

WHILE THINKING ABOUT DYING ISN’T SOMETHING any of us really want to dwell on….it’s a fact…all of us are going to die someday. Knowing that it is a question of “when” rather than “if” means we can plan ahead and make “things” easier for our survivors. By writing a letter of last instructions we can provide essential information needed to relieve our survivors   of needless hours of frustration and anguish as they search for needed important documents during a time of sadness and grief over our passing.

Let your loved ones know the location of your important documents, including your letter of last instructions, be specific. Describe whether they are “in the safe deposit box at XYZ bank,” “in the bottom left-hand drawer of the desk,” or “in the cardboard box on the top right-hand-side of the bedroom closet.” This kind of detail is helpful for family or friends who are faced with the task of sorting through all your papers to find information needed for the death certificate and to determine which assets in your estate must go through the probate process.

Once you have signed and dated your completed letter, you can decide what parts if any, you want to copy and share with family members or friends. Then make several additional copies and place in an easily accessible place. Give one copy to your attorney and another to your personal representative. A personal representative is the person you name in your will to carry out your plan for the settlement of your estate. If you do not name a personal representative in your will or if you die without writing a will, the district judge will appoint one based on the priority list provided in Montana statutes.

Review your letter annually or when there has been a change in your family situation. Marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or the death of a family member are a few examples. The updating task will be much easier and less time consuming if you save your letter of last instructions electronically. Your letter can also be handwritten.

If you would like more information on writing a last letter of instruction visit the MSU
Extension website or stop by your local extension office and ask for the MSU Extension MontGuide titled Letter of Last Instruction.

Alice Burchak
Toole County Extension - FCS Agent

No comments:

Post a Comment