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Your Letter of Final Instructions a Non-Legal Part of Your Idaho Estate Plan

In almost every part of this website we talk about and describe the legal aspects of your Idaho estate planning. However, your letter of final instructions which should be a non-legal part of your Idaho estate plan is also very important. It can be used to provide a good deal of information to your family in a non-legally binding way. It may seem odd for a law firm to be discussing a non-legal aspect of estate planning, but in the course of our providing estate planning services for over 70 years, we have come to see the importance of having a letter of final instructions.

As a premier Idaho estate planning law firm, the Racine Law Office has assisted numerous clients in completing and updating their Idaho estate plan. We don’t take a cookie cutter approach. Rather, our goal is to customize each plan to the individual receiving it so that it meets their specific needs. Our team of Idaho estate planning lawyers work together to make sure that each client’s needs are met. Our team is made up of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. As can be seen by the high reviews we received from current and previous clients, our team has the knowledge, skill, and ability to assist you with your estate planning.

As was mentioned above, a letter of final instructions really has no legal effect at all. It is only designed to provide information to family members and friends about various items. However, it is important to not underestimate how helpful and in many ways how vital a letter of final instructions can be. Here is a list of five ways that a letter of final instructions could help you.

Funeral Arrangements

The first way a letter of final instructions could help you is with your funeral arrangements. Many people try to put this information in their last will and testament. The problem with this is that most family members don’t look at the last will and testament until after the funeral is completed. In fact, many family members don’t know where the last will and testament is located. This is true because most people usually don’t leave their last will and testament just laying around.

However, a letter of final instructions could be left in a desk drawer, or in a binder, or in some other location that you can tell your family about while you are alive. This gives your family members the ability to find your letter of final instructions which can easily contain details about what you want in your funeral arrangements. You can leave instructions about who will participate in your funeral. You can leave instructions about the music that should be played at your funeral. You can also leave specific instructions about where your funeral should take place. My experience with clients is that they are very grateful when a parent or other family member has left a letter of final instructions that they can follow. In this way, they know they are completing the final wishes of their loved one.

Basic Financial Information

Another way of letter of final instructions could be useful is in providing basic financial information to family members. This could include where banks are located, what the bank accounts are, where the retirement accounts are located along with contact information, it could also include information about social security benefits and other governmental programs. Additionally, your letter of final instructions could also include a basic list of assets, properties owned, investments, life insurance, and other financial information that may be difficult to locate.

The idea here is to provide just the basic information to your family so they know where to go to get the detailed information. If you simply provide the name of your bank, it’s address, and it’s phone number, that gives your children a place to start to determine what bank accounts you have and how to access them. The same thing is true of real estate that you may own or investments that you may have or any of the other numerous things listed above.

Digital Assets

In addition to basic financial information it is very common for individuals to have emails, social media accounts, sometimes online banking accounts, blogs, as well as other digital assets because we live in a digital age. Digital assets are even more difficult to locate than the basic financial information if your family has no idea where to start. Consider for instance a PayPal account. It’s possible there could be money in that account. However, if your family doesn’t know you have a PayPal account, or if they do not have the account numbers as well as the login information, there’s no way for them to access or take possession of that account. What this means is that if you die without providing this information to your family, they will never receive those assets.

The same is true for email. It’s more than likely that you use email regularly as a way of communicating with other individuals. If you do not provide this information to your family, they will not be able to access your email account or do any communication with the individuals on your account. As a result, your letter of final instruction should contain information about your digital assets as well as your other basic financial information.

Arrangements for Pets

Another use that people make of a final letter of instructions is arrangements for pets. It is possible for people to put this information in their last will and testament. However, as was pointed out above, most family members do not immediately look at the last will and testament. It’s usually occurs several weeks or months later. In the meantime, any pets of the family must be taken care of. By providing information about how to take care of your pets, and who you would like your pets to go to, you have provided some vital information to your family members in your final letter of instructions.

A Final Goodbye

Up till now we’ve talked about how your final letter of instructions can help you in providing information to your family about things that you own. However, in my opinion, this is not the most important use of a final letter of instructions. The single best use for a letter of final instructions is for you to give your final goodbyes to your family members and loved ones. This became very apparent to me when I attended a funeral for a family member. This family member had used a letter of final instructions and had left specific good-byes and expressions of love to each of their children as well as to other family members and friends. One of the children chose to share this expression of love during the funeral program. The things that this parent said to this child we’re wonderful! These statements reiterated a lifetime of love from this parent to this child. It was obvious to everyone that this child would treasure that letter of final instructions.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Idaho estate plan or with your probate needs. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or need a Probate for a loved one who has passed, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation with the Racine Olson team. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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