If you have created a Will and Living Trust, congratulations! By some estimates, you’re ahead of more than half of all Americans who have not created a comprehensive estate plan. Putting a Will and Living Trust in place goes a long way toward protecting your assets from probate and providing for those you love. However, if you want your successors to understand the thoughts, feelings and intentions you considered when bequeathing your estate, you may consider writing a letter to the Trustee you’ve selected to administer your estate at death.
Why should I write a letter?
Since Trusteeship could be a long-term position if you pass away with young children or dependent beneficiaries such as those with special needs, a letter can provide the road map necessary for making discretionary choices or interpreting the reasoning behind the terms of your Living Trust. This is also true for those you’ve named to take guardianship of minor children.
What should I include?
- Parenting philosophy: Imagine a friend or family member stepping into this role. Wouldn’t it help for them to understand why you selected them and how best to raise your children in the manner you intended? Sharing your vision for education, for example, would give the appointed guardian confidence to guide your children according to your wishes.
- Family dynamics: Providing a bit of background about family history and describing various family members gives the Trustee perspective. Are there family members with mental illness or substance abuse issues? Do certain personalities tend to dominate family meetings? Outlining your preferences and concerns will help your Trustee navigate these potential obstacles.
- Your legacy of wealth: Including the story of how you accumulated wealth and what you hope for it to accomplish after you’re gone is key information for the Trustee. Your personal thoughts about investing and saving, entrepreneurialism, education and other relevant matters will be the touchstone for decision making after your death.
Of course, this is only the starting point. Any personal particulars that would assist the Trustee in administering your estate according to your desires would be a wise addition.