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Planning Ahead About Autopsies Cremation

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planning ahead

Here are some things we should do now to makes things easier on our survivors.

Letter of Instruction — This section will not go into the obvious need to have a current will. What will be discussed is how to carry out that will with the assistance of a Letter of Instruction. This informal document will tell the executor of your estate and your heirs, in plain simple language, where to find all the documents needed to carry out the will, where all your property is located, where insurance policies are stored, where to find keys, what bank accounts you have open, what property you own, and more.

This letter is not a will or a will substitute and does not have the force of law as does a will. However, it is a very useful estate planning tool and it helps your executor do the best job possible.

Here is an example of things that may be covered in your Letter of Instruction:

  • Organ and body donations
  • Funeral preferences (an ideal means to help your heirs avoid overspending on a big funeral)
  • Locations of your "hiding places"
  • Locations of powers of attorney and other important papers
  • Whom to notify
  • Money owed to you
  • Valuable possessions such as jewelry, personal valuables, stocks & bonds
  • List of all insurance policies including life, mortgage and medical
  • Location of income tax returns
  • Credit card accounts
  • Money you owe to others
  • Locations of post office and safe deposit boxes;
  • Special wishes
  • Names of lawyer and accountant
  • List of Veteran's benefits you may be entitled to.

Your funeral director should be able to handle contacting the VA concerning benefits if he is made aware of the need.

You will not be able to compile all this information at one time. It is suggested that a loose leaf binder be used with separate pages for different items that can be easily updated as needed. Gathering and maintaining this information will be one of the greatest gifts to your heirs.

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