Why letters of final wishes are important

While attorneys may draft wills, powers of attorney and trusts, Georgia estate holders must write their own letters of final wishes. A letter of final wishes gives a testator's family members, close friends and trusted colleagues information that they will likely need but cannot find in traditional estate planning documents. In addition to conveying an individual's last wishes and reflections, these letters can be a source of great comfort to grieving relatives and acquaintances during a difficult time.

Letters of final wishes do not have any bearing on how estates are administered or assets distributed, but they may explain to heirs why certain estate planning decisions were made. Bitter disputes sometimes flare up between heirs when the provisions of wills seem unfair or arbitrary. However, a letter of final wishes may prevent such unpleasantness by explaining the testator's wishes.

As well as providing family members with useful information such as the login credentials for online accounts and the location of documents like tax returns and retirement account statements, letters of final wishes may contain details about important personal matters. Testators may mention the music that they would like played at their funerals or memorial services, and pet owners may include detailed instructions concerning the ongoing care of their companion animals.

Attorneys with experience in this area may urge their clients to avoid brevity when writing their letters of final wishes. Thorough explanations can prevent arguments over what a deceased individual would have wanted, and knowing that these matters have been attended to properly may provide testators with peace of mind.

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