Tips for providing clarity, peace of mind, and closure to those left behind

By Stephanie Sterling, EA, AIF®, ChFC®

When you die, will your family be in turmoil? Will there be arguments, resentment, and doubt, or will there be a sad-but-smooth transition, with your values known and your wishes honored? Will family members support each other, or will your passing break the family apart? The emotional impact for those left behind when you die goes way beyond the estate planning, legal issues, and tax implications your death may create.

Estate planning documents generally include a will, a trust (revocable or irrevocable), powers of attorney for property (durable power of attorney) and personal care (advance health care directive).  You name a person or people to make decisions for you when you are unable to and given direction on how to settle your affairs after you die.

As a financial professional, I often meet with clients who have recently lost a family member. Although they may be aware there were documents outlining their loved one’s last wishes, they have never seen the documents, or don’t fully understand the details within them. Sometimes they are left wondering why certain decisions were made, or whether they’re interpreting things correctly.

A conversation might have provided clarity and allowed them to be sure they were carrying out their loved one’s wishes as he or she would have wanted.

But what if having a conversation with your family is too emotional or too difficult?

Writing down your desires, and the reasons behind your actions can provide clarity and comfort to those left behind. A “final wishes letter” or a “letter to loved ones” can be handwritten and placed with your other legal documents once those are finalized. Non-financial assets are usually not addressed in a will or trust document. The addition of a letter helps to provide direction when it is needed the most. No one will be left scratching their head, asking if this was what you really wanted.

It is never easy to take on the role of a successor trustee or executor when someone dies. For those left behind, being able to work through the process, knowing they are carrying out each step in the way their loved one wanted, helps to provide comfort, peace of mind, and closure.

The internet provides many resources to help you put together a final wishes letter. Additionally, many estate planning attorneys can provide a template for you to get started.

If you would like more information on this or other related topics, please feel free to contact Stratos Wealth Partners, for a complimentary call or appointment, at 928.460.5507; or stop by 100 E. Sheldon Street, Suite 105, in Prescott.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.  Stratos Wealth Partners and LPL Financial do not offer legal advice or services. 

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advice offered through Stratos Wealth Partners, a registered investment advisor and separate entity from LPL Financial.