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Your estate plan is finished. You’ve dotted your I’s, crossed your T’s, and you’re feeling good about the work you’ve done in the interest of protecting your family. But how do you ensure the intention behind your effort will shine through? After all, planning for the future is as much about leaving a legacy as it is about distributing material goods. The answer is a letter of intent.
Communicating the Intent Behind Your Estate Planning
Your Will, advance directives, and other estate planning documents contain the legal language needed to make your planning for the future a reality. However, they say nothing of the thought that went into your decision-making.
An important step in estate planning is sitting down with your loved ones and involving them in a conversation about what you wish to come of your life’s work. Here, space needs to be provided for everyone to share their concerns, desires, and aims. Bringing your loved ones onto the same page concerning your final wishes is an important step in protecting your family and avoiding conflict down the road.
Once you’ve had this conversation and drafted all the needed documents, you need to set what you’ve talked about to writing so that nothing is distorted by the fog of memory or passing of time. The best way to do this is through a letter of intent—a non-binding, non-legal document used to express your wishes in your own words.
How to Write a Letter of Intent
Your assets will be distributed according to the terms of your Will and other legal documents. Your letter of intent plays no role in this process but instead serves to explain the motivation behind your decisions. When writing your letter, keep in mind that you aim simply to provide insight that may soothe grief and diffuse potential conflict.
There is no formula for writing a letter of intent, but three details are important to include.
1. Share Your Intentions
Actions may speak louder than words, but this doesn’t mean words don’t matter. Your estate plan provides instructions concerning the actions you wish to be taken with your assets while your letter of intent spells out the intention behind them. Not only is this important sentimental information for your loved ones, but valuable guidance that can be used to ease tensions that may arise.
2. Express Your Motivations
Legal language can be cold, rigid, and hard to parse. This is good for getting things done but not for expressing feelings. A letter of intent provides the space for you to attend to this latter task and thereby ensure your family understands why you took the decisions you did.
3. Provide Additional Guidance
Your estate executor and/or trustee are saddled with an intimidating task, and you won’t be around to guide them. While a letter of intent won’t allow you to address every unexpected contingency that may arise concerning the distribution of your assets, it can provide general guidance that may ease the challenge of decision-making in important moments.
To learn more about planning for the future and ensuring your estate plan achieves its purpose on every level, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm either by calling 417-623-2062 or using the contact form on our website.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm