Understanding the Explanatory Letter

Misc1Everyone, no matter the size of your estate, is encouraged to draft an estate plan that includes Wills, trusts, and other essential estate-planning documents. An effective estate plan ensures that your beneficiaries get the inheritance you intend for them to receive, as well as naming a personal representative (called an executor) to carry out the wishes in accordance with your last Will and testament. If you have minor children, you should name guardians for them in the event you pass away while they are still minors. 

Apart from all the pertinent legal matters your Will should attend to, you might feel compelled to include a surplus letter, called the explanatory letter, that explains the rationale for your dividing up your assets the manner in which you did. Such items can be particularly for your survivors but must be segregated from the actual text of your last Will and testament for legal reasons.

Your explanatory letter can do many more things than simply explaining why you divided your estate the way you did. Many people decide to address their wishes for any pets that were under their care, as well as ideas you have in mind for your children or grandchildren to use that precious heirloom that they might not know how to use (although, for example, record players have made somewhat of a comeback in recent years). 

Also, you might choose the explanatory letter to be a platform for your views on your family’s dynamics. Sometimes, a stern dressing-down from beyond the grave is just what you feel your nephew or other wayward family member needs. Usually, though, an explanatory letter is a medium in which you can clarify your general wishes for your loved ones. Feel free to get sentimental.

What to Avoid in your Explanatory Letter

You should generally avoid including anything in the explanatory letter that belongs in your Will. A seasoned estate planning attorney will be able to discern the appropriate content for the separate and distinct documents. Additionally, you should not provide information that runs contrary to information in your official estate-planning documents. Confusion will reign if you do not leave your children any inheritance, but state in your explanatory letter that you hope they enjoy the lakehouse you left behind. 

Contact Us

You should not feel bad about indulging yourself in your explanatory letter, but steer clear of any information that could contradict your last Will and testament. ProActive Legal Care can help you ensure your estate plan and all related documents are composed just the way you intend. Give us a call at (772) 221-3222 or get in touch with us here.

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