Letter of Instruction to a Loved One




When confronted with the serious illness or the death of a loved one, you do not want to deal with a financial crisis as well!  Take the following steps of asset management and communication before an unexpected ambulance ride to the Emergency Room ever occurs.  Planning ahead will prevent much stress.

Have you written a Letter of Instruction to your loved ones?  Have you received a Letter of Instruction from those you would be responsible for upon their death?

Have you updated the custodians for your minor children?  Have you worked on your Estate or Business Distribution Plans?

If not, now is the time to take care of business.  When doing so, work with the appropriate professionals: Attorney, Accountant, and Financial Advisor.

The serious illness, or death of a loved one is difficult.  Why make it any more difficult for them, or for you by leaving tasks undone and desires unexpressed? Limit the grief and frustration of those you leave behind by taking the time now to complete a letter of instruction.  Save yourself grief by asking your aging parents, or spouse to do the same for you.

Inform your family on the matters that will affect you if you are suddenly in an accident or face serious illness.  Give them information that will affect their welfare after your death.  Make a checklist for the important matters which will need immediate attention. Once you have written the letter, discuss it with your family and place a copy where it can be easily retrieved when needed.  No matter how well conceived, every estate plan should be reviewed periodically. That goes for this letter of instruction as well.  Update your letter at least once a year to be sure it reflects your current feelings, circumstances, and beneficiaries.


Let your family know the following information:

  • Your medical directives - who will be a healthcare proxy if one should be needed?
  • Do you want to be cremated or buried?
  • Do you prefer a particular funeral home?
  • Do you have a preference for calling hours, religious services, or a celebration of life?
  • Are you an organ donor?
  • Have you purchased a burial plot?  Does your family know the location?
  • Do they have the deed or evidence of ownership?




Keep your family informed of the location of all documents they will need if you are seriously ill or to settle your affairs upon your death.  Included in that is the handling of all the financial accounts, the URLs, the IDs and passwords, and account numbers, so that your loved one can access all financial accounts on-line.  Having a spreadsheet or document with this data would be most useful for your family.

  • Don't forget to record the passwords for your computers, iPhones, iPads and recorded passwords for websites which may contain information or photos your family may value.
  • Your Living Will, Your Will, and your spouses' Will.
  • Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney
  • Trusts created by you or trusts of which you are a beneficiary
  • Insurance policies: Life, Medical, Hospitalization, Long Term Care, disability Income Policies, Homeowners, and Auto Insurance
  • Deeds to Real Estate and Mortgage Information
  • Automobile Titles Proving Ownership
  • Bank information for Savings and Checking Accounts, as well as location of key for safety deposit boxes
  • Credit Card Information
  • Income Tax Returns
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Stock Certificates
  • Bonds
  • Promissory Notes Receivable/Payable
  • Installment Payment Books
  • Receipts for Major Purchases
  • Business Agreements

Make sure your family knows the names and contact information of the following people that must be contacted upon your death: Attorney, Clergy, Accountant, Trust Officer, Financial Advisor, Stock Broker, and Insurance Agent.


If you own a business, your family should know your thoughts on whether its retention or disposition is in the best interests of the surviving family.

If the business should be sold, to whom and for what price?  Have you made arrangements for the sale of your business interest by means of a Buy and Sell Agreement?  If so, your spouse should know the steps involved in carrying out the terms of such an agreement.

If you feel the business should be retained after your death, be certain your spouse understands the business well enough to "step into your shoes."  If there are key employees whose judgment and integrity you trust, your spouse should know who they are and the terms of any agreements you may have made with them.


Your loved one should understand the provisions of any will and trust executed by you.  If you have executed what is sometimes called a Marital Trust, you should explain the reasons for so doing to your spouse--though I would hope all such decisions were made and executed jointly.  The Executor or Executrix or Successor Trustee should also be aware of such documents.


Your spouse should understand the nature and extent of any benefits to which he or she may be entitled by virtue of your employment.  Some of the more important items to be covered are the following:  Pension Plans, Deferred Compensation Plan, $5,000 Death Benefit Plan, Profit Sharing Plan, Stock Option Plan, Unpaid Commissions, Group Insurance, Vacation Pay, Major Medical Coverage, TDA or 401(k) Plan.


Social Security benefits must be applied for-they are not automatic.

Contact the nearest Social Security office as soon as possible after the death.

A surviving spouse is entitled to benefits so long as there is an unmarried, dependent child under 16 years of age still under that spouse's care.  In addition, children's benefits may be payable in some situations. At age 60, your spouse will be eligible for a survivor's benefit.  There is also a small lump sum benefit payable to a surviving spouse or child eligible for survivor's benefits.  The funeral director will assist in applying for this benefit.


If you are a veteran, your spouse should contact the Veterans Administration after your death.   Your spouse will need the following: your marriage certificate, copies of your dependent children's birth certificates, your VA claim (file) number, your military service serial number, and a copy of the death certificate. Benefits such as from an insurance policy may be available.


You should inform your spouse of the names and addresses of organizations to which you belong.  There could be a group life insurance policy or a special death benefit fund available.


A Financial Advisor and Insurance Agent can be of invaluable service after a death.  S/he can assist your spouse in filing the necessary papers - usually a statement of claim and a death certificate.  She will also assist in setting up the options of the deceased IRA plan for the beneficiaries.  Be sure your advisor's name, address and telephone number are easily accessible.


Are loved ones aware of bills that must be paid at regular intervals, such as premiums for automobile and homeowner's insurance, mortgage payments, and payments on outstanding balances on bank credit cards?  If possible, set up a financial management system whereby these may be paid as they fall due.



Be specific about any special requests you may have - a memento to a grandchild, a piece of jewelry to a daughter, golf clubs to a nephew.  In this way promises can be kept and the love shared by you can be recalled through the gift.

Following these steps will make a difficult task easier for you and your loved ones.

















Securities and advisory services offered through Ausdal Financial Partners, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC 

5187 Utica Ridge Road, Davenport, IA 563-326-2064

Wilson Capital Management, LLC and Ausdal Financial Partners are independently owned and operated.