One More Important Piece of Paperwork

By Megan Morrow
Published February 28, 2019


Will and trust? Check.

Durable power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney? Check.

Guardianship designations? Check.

Letter to your loved ones?

It turns out, you might be missing one important document as part of your overall estate-planning records.

Many people live (and die) with regrets, chiefly related to romance, family, education, career, finance, parenting, health and other issues. Some people regret not saying “I am sorry” or “I love you.” Some people regret not spending enough time with kids while others lament the risk or adventure not taken. A sincere letter, however, can complete your estate planning while allowing you to live with less regret and a focus on what matters most.

How to write a great letter

If you, like many people, have lost the art of letter writing, the Stanford Letter Project offers templates and suggestions to get you started.

In addition, the following five tips can help you craft a meaningful letter that allows you to say what needs to be said:

  1. Be sincere. This is not the time for jokes or sarcasm or beating around the bush. Aim to be forthright in sharing your thoughts and feelings in a letter.
  2. Shower the people you love with love. Take the time to acknowledge the person you are drafting a letter to, expressing your feelings, appreciation, pride or regret. The written word can be much more powerful than a passing comment, and a heartfelt letter gives someone something to hang onto and remember for years to come. Even if you are typically reticent, open your heart and honestly share your feelings.
  3. Be specific. Share a fun memory or a story you hold dear, and include some details that stand out and show that you have been paying attention. Examples and stories can spark other memories and make your letter more meaningful than something with general platitudes.
  4. Apologize, if necessary. This is rarely easy, but always important. If you need to say “I am sorry” for something, do so. If the issue is serious, this letter might be the first step towards mending a broken relationship. Likewise, make sure that you offer forgiveness, in turn.
  5. Open up a new path. If you want to get back in touch with someone, let them know you would love to talk on the phone, meet for coffee or take a walk. If you are seeking to deepen a relationship, share that information as well. When you make it easy for the recipient to respond, you take ownership and increase the chances of success.

You can mail the letter, deliver it yourself, or save it with your will and trust, if you prefer that option. Nevertheless, a handwritten letter gives you the chance to say everything you need and want to say so that you can live and die without regret.

We want to hear from you

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The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor. The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.

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