Tip: Contact Information. A letter of instruction might include contact information for individuals who could be helpful in the distribution of your assets, such as your lawyer or financial professional.
Actor Lee Marvin once said, “As soon as people see my face on a movie screen, they [know] two things: first, I’m not going to get the girl, and second, I’ll get a cheap funeral before the picture is over.”1
Most people don’t spend too much time thinking about their own funeral, and yet many of us have a vision about our memorial service or the handling of our remains. A letter of instruction can help you accomplish that goal.
A letter of instruction is not a legal document; it’s a letter written by you that provides additional and more personal information regarding your estate. It can be addressed to whomever you choose, but typically letters of instruction are directed to the executor, family members, or beneficiaries.
Think of a letter of instruction as a “cheat sheet” to your estate. Here are a few ideas and concepts that may be included:
Fast Fact: Going Without. If you die without a will, also called dying “intestate,” the state will decide how your assets should be distributed.
A letter of instruction is also a good place to leave burial or cremation wishes. You should consider giving the location of your cemetery plot deed, if you have one. You may even wish to specify which hymns or speakers you would like included in your memorial service. Although a letter of instruction is not legally binding, your heirs will probably be glad to know how you would like to be remembered. It also may be helpful to leave a list of contact information for people who should be notified in the event of your death.
There is no “best way” to write a letter of instruction. It can be written in your style and reflect your personality, or it can be written to simply convey information. You should decide what type of letter best fits your estate strategy.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they don’t have a will.
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.
As a homeowner, are you responsible for the damage caused by a tree on your property that hits your neighbor’s home or other insured structure, such as a garage or shed?
In most cases, the answer is “no.”
When such damage occurs to your neighbor’s home due to forces outside your control, e.g., weather events, your neighbors may have to file a claim with their insurer to receive a reimbursement for the damage a down tree or branches cause.
There is one exception, however.
If it is determined that the tree damage stems from your negligence (e.g., dead limbs that you refused to cut down, or you chose to trim your tree as a weekend project), then the neighbor’s insurer may come after you to recover their loss—a process called subrogation.¹
You may want to check your policy or speak to your insurance agent to ascertain if your homeowners policy covers your liability in cases of negligence.
Some neighbors may seek to bring legal action against you, though often that is unnecessary.
First, determine what municipal laws are in place to cover such instances. Generally speaking, you are not responsible unless you knew, or should have known, about the danger. Proving what you knew or should have known can be difficult and costly in a court of law. It typically benefits both parties to arrive at a compromise that avoids an expensive legal process.