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A letter of instruction may help clarify your Florida estate plan

Some people call it an LOI, but no matter what you call a letter of instruction, it remains an often overlooked option for West Palm Beach residents who are planning their estates. A letter of instruction is meant to offer another level of clarification regarding one's estate planning documents.

An LOI can address nearly any aspect of an estate plan. Maybe you want to include PIN numbers or access codes, online usernames and passwords, even military discharge papers. This last item is especially important for veterans who wish to have their burial and funeral expenses reimbursed. A letter of instruction can also include language that gives the estate administrators chosen in your will special access to certain documents, such adoption or birth certificates.

Of course, a letter of instruction is no substitute for other estate planning documents such as powers of attorney, wills or trusts. Those documents are meant to be legally binding, while a letter of instruction isn't. But an LOI can help highlight your end-of-life wishes and provide supplementary guidance to heirs and beneficiaries.

To add that extra degree of clarity, readers in South Florida may want to take the time to draft a letter of instruction. Doing so might help relieve some of the stress loved ones sometimes encounter when they confront estate planning documents while trying to cope with losing a loved one. There are many tools for achieving a solid estate plan, and an LOI is one more of them to help family members see the clear picture of your wishes.

Source: Times Herald-Record, "Bonnie Kraham: Add a letter of instruction to estate plan," Bonnie Kraham, April 8, 2012

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