A letter of intent, sometimes called a letter of instruction, can be a helpful addition to your estate planning documents. Typically, an estate plan will include formal documents drafted by your estate planning attorney, such as:
- Last Will and Testament
- Living Will
- Revocable Trust
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Financial Power of Attorney
A letter of intent left alongside these legal documents can help your heirs and loved ones to understand the specifics of your estate plan.
More personal and informal than your other estate planning documents, a letter of intent is not legally binding and does not take the place of your legal documents. The letter is supplemental and can include any number of personal anecdotes. It should be kept in a safe place, typically with your legal estate documents.
Here are some examples of what a letter of intent might include:
- Hopes for family legacy
- Wishes regarding family values
- A sentimental message to loved ones
- An explanation of your estate plan (e.g., why property is left to one person and not another or why property will be transferred to a trust)
- Information about a dependent with special needs
- Funeral or memorial preferences
- Practical information about assets (e.g., where keys are located or passwords to digital accounts)
- Instructions regarding the care of pets
A letter of intent can provide clarification to your loved ones, executor and/or trustee regarding your estate plan.