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Write an Explanatory Letter to Accompany Your Will

By Arleen Richards
Epoch Times Contributor
Created: December 31, 2012 Last Updated: January 2, 2013
Related articles: Life » Slice of Life
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A picture taken on December 18, 2012 shows a corsage pin made of emeralds, diamonds, silver and gold, displayed on a 1867 page order of Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, in the Mellerio jewelry store in Paris. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

A picture taken on December 18, 2012 shows a corsage pin made of emeralds, diamonds, silver and gold, displayed on a 1867 page order of Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, in the Mellerio jewelry store in Paris. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

The thought of preparing a will can be stressful enough, but actually making final decisions about how you would like to distribute your assets and to whom may add some extra anxiety.

Consider writing a letter that explains your reasoning for distributing the property the way you did and also why you chose a certain person to take responsibility for managing your estate.

First and foremost, you should write that the letter is separate and apart from your will and that it should not be construed as an addendum or replacement for your will. It is merely an explanation of your thought process at the time you prepared the will. That way, the letter would not have any legal binding effect, but may serve to give you some peace of mind and alleviate potential hard feelings of surviving loved ones.

Some thoughts you may consider including in your letter can vary from explaining why certain gifts were made to providing care for your pet.

If you have more than one child, but left the family home to only one of your children, you could explain, for example, why this child is receiving more than the others. Your reason may be that this child needs the home more and the other children received considerable financial support in the past for purchase of a house or education costs.

Explaining your motives is equally important when leaving certain personal items to your children. If you don’t feel it is prudent to sit down with your children during your life to discuss what items you intend to leave and to whom, you can discuss your thoughts in a letter. If you have three daughters you can only leave your diamond engagement ring to one of them. Perhaps you feel she is the only daughter who is in a lasting relationship and likely to get married soon.

You can buffer potential hard feelings by expressing appreciation and respect to your other daughters for the caring relationship they developed with you and explaining that your other diamond jewelry items are equally meaningful.

Another decision that could possibly leave family members disgruntled is your choice for executor of the will. You have the option to name whomever you want, even a friend, but certain family members may feel discredited or unappreciated. Even if you know that someone will not be able to handle the truth, you can still write your thoughts in an effort to explain how you carefully considered your final decision and why you made it.

Although these examples are not exhaustive, one more thought for you to consider in writing a separate letter is how you want your pet cared for.

In addition to leaving your pet and a sum of money to a friend or family member who has agreed in advance to take on the job, you can write additional thoughts about how you want your pet cared for and special idiosyncrasies to be aware of.

These matters of the heart are best expressed by you and in your own way. However, consult an attorney to ensure that your final will is correctly prepared, to avoid any confusion.

Information contained in this article is not intended to be legal advice nor applicable to all situations. For legal assistance, contact an attorney in your state of residence. You can visit Arleen’s website at arleenrichards-law.info.

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