Last week, I discussed the importance of having a Living Will which the Terri Schiavo case had brought to the public’s attention. If you missed last week’s column and would like to download a Living Will document that you can complete and sign, go to the Resource Center at www.welchgroup.com and click on ‘Healthcare Directive’. As a companion document to your Living Will and other estate planning documents, you should consider creating a Letter of Instructions for your heirs. The Letter of Instructions will address two important issues that will greatly benefit your heirs.
1. Document Locator form. It has been my experience that most people don’t keep their important documents in any organized way. Our Document Locator form lets you provide detailed instructions about where all of your important documents are located. Best of all, this process does not require that you actually gather all of your documents in one location. In a few minutes, you can indicate where all your documents are located. Of course, if you don’t know where a particular document is, you’ll have to find it or have it replaced. I would suggest that if you are having trouble finding a document, your heirs would have even more trouble. You’ll be doing them a big favor solving the problem now rather than leaving it to them after you are gone.
2. Instructions to heirs. Obviously, the time right after the death of a loved one is extremely emotional and stressful for the surviving family members. A multitude of decisions must be made in a matter of days. What type (and how expensive) a funeral service to hold? Who will be the pallbearers? Who needs to be contacted? A few minutes of pre-planning on your part now will make life a lot easier at your death.
Recently, my firm was involved in a case where a client passed away but had completed all of the planning described above in addition to the client having a current will, Living Will and Power of Attorney. His pre-planning made all the difference in helping his family through the grieving process. Obviously, rarely do we know when our time on earth will end but we should have confidence that our day will come! Why not give your family the same gift that my client gave his family? If you would like a copy of our Letter of Instructions, send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I will be happy to send you a copy. Indicate that you would like our Letter of Instructions forms. The address is:
Stewart H. Welch, III
3940 Montclair Road, 5th Floor
Birmingham, AL 35213