When New York residents think of estate planning, it is likely that wills, trusts and taxes are the first things that come to mind. Indeed, these documents may even help prevent the possibility of trust and estate litigation. However, there is one other item that may help heirs to understand some of the reasons behind their benefactors' final plans.
Some professionals recommend that a Letter of Final Wishes be an integral part of estate plans. This missive is not a legal document nor is it required, but including one may go along way in helping loved ones to navigate the rest of the formal plans. These letters could be used to address the reasoning behind why one heir may have received a disproportionate share of an estate or assets. It may also include the location of where these legal documents are stored for safekeeping if that information was not shared previously.
Along with explanations and location, this letter may also include details relating to matters such as to whom surviving pets shall be entrusted. Passwords for social media accounts could also be included in this letter. Additionally, if so desired, the writer may wish to address how property or assets could be utilized, though this letter is not a legally binding document, and the heirs are not required to abide by these particular suggestions.
Lastly, one could include details relating to the funeral or memorial services if there are certain elements that one would wish to be incorporated. For New York residents, estate planning may be one of the most important decisions that they make. Including a letter to accompany these documents could possibly forestall any attempts an heir may consider concerning trust and estate litigation. There are experienced attorneys located in the state who can assist residents in drawing up the documents that will best suit each individual's needs.
Source: Forbes, "Estate planning: Your letter of final wishes", Rob Clarfeld, May 18, 2017