Day 25 of the Legacy Notebook Series
We just have a few days left in this challenge and we’ve covered a lot of ground this month. Some of the legacy notebook action items are simply administrative in nature and require little thought or contemplation, others are more involved. Today is a deeper kind of day.
The standard language in a will is fairly black and white and for good reason. Legal documents need to be straightforward and clear to avoid misinterpretation. Our lives, however, are messy and complex…and full of gray areas.
Many people choose to write an explanatory letter to support the terms of their will. This letter is not a legally binding document, but rather a means of sharing the reasoning behind the terms of your will. Many of us have bequests in our wills that would benefit from further explanation.
This could be an explanation of why gifts were made to certain beneficiaries (and not others), suggestions for managing shared gifts, or the reasoning behind unequal gifts among children. For instance, if you choose to leave your real estate holdings to one person and the rest of your assets to another, an explanatory letter can help your beneficiaries understand the thinking behind the bequests. This article shares some examples to get you started.
Writing a letter like this is a tall order and not something to be taken lightly, but it is also an opportunity to share openly with your beneficiaries one last time. In a perfect world, the words shared in an explanatory letter would all be “old news” that loved ones already knew and understood. However, in our not-so-perfect world, there are often crucial conversations that go unspoken because it is “easier” or avoids awkward family dynamics. Some people are able to convey thoughts and insights in an explanatory letter that they simply can’t bring themselves to share in person, particularly if there are strained family relationships in play. Not an ideal situation, but some insight into a loved one’s intentions and reasoning, no matter how surprising or hurtful it might be, beats the pants off no explanation (at least in my book).
Break out the pen and paper and get started. We have more writing to do this week. Stay tuned.
Today’s Action Items:
- Write a letter to support/explain your will and put it in your notebook
- This was a tough one – reward yourself for getting it done.
thanks for reading,
P.S. Looking for the rest of the series? You can find it here.
Stronger Wallet’s Legacy Notebook series information is intentionally general in nature and covers typical scenarios. You may have special circumstances that need to be considered. Always consult a trusted advisor before making big decisions about your financial legacy. Feel free to send me questions along the way at lesley[at]strongerwallet.com.
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The guide includes everything you need to get started: a cover sheet and divider pages to set up your notebook, an overview of each topic, checklists, worksheets, and writing prompts to guide you through the process.