A Letter of Final Instructions is not a legal document but a road map to guide your survivors through the maze that each of us creates during our lifetime. Not only will its preparation guide your loved ones following your death, it will help you organize and consolidate the information that you must deal with during your own lifetime or that others might require in the event of your disability due to a serious accident or illness. It may require significant effort on your part, but the assistance that it provides may turn out to be beyond measure to your family.

Below is a list of items that you may want to consider for your own final letter of instructions. If you think of additional items that should be added to the list, please contact me directly.

1. A comprehensive list of assets
a. List approximate values
b. List banks and account numbers
c. List brokerages and account numbers
d. List insurance policies, policy numbers and coverage amounts
e. List annuities, contract numbers and contract amounts
f. Pensions and contact information of pension administrator

2. A comprehensive list of liabilities
a. Mortgages
b. Credit card accounts
c. Line of credit accounts
3. People to contact
a. Relatives
b. Friends
c. Clergy
d. Attorneys
e. Accountants
f. Insurance Agents
g. Financial Advisors
4. Location of all estate planning documents and contact information for your personal attorney, accountant and financial advisers
5. Location of your personal phone directory (paper or on the computer)
6. A record of your user names and passwords for web sites that you utilize for email, social networking, financial information and transactions, as well as subscription services that should be terminated in the event of your death of disability
7. Location of personal papers and how are they organized
8. Location of safe deposit boxes and numbers
a. Box inventory
b. Identify signatories
c. Location of safe deposit box keys
9. Preferred funeral and burial arrangements
a. Information regarding any pre-arranged funeral service
b. Information regarding cemetery plot
c. Brief resume on which death notices/obituary can be based
d. Any specific directions regarding your funeral/memorial service
10. Location of keys to all residences
11. Desires regarding upbringing of children and grandchildren
12. Disposition of personal property
13. Advice to spouse or partner regarding any matters of concern, such as directions regarding businesses or real estate
14. Keep your letter current

Remember that the Letter of Final Instruction is not meant to take the place of appropriate estate planning documents such as a Will, Trust, Durable Power of Attorney and Designation of
Patient Advocate. Those documents will still be required in the event of a serious disability or death.

Your loved ones will appreciate the time and effort you expended in leaving them your Letter of Final Instructions.