Is a Relative Legally Bound to Follow Your Instructions When You Die?
The sister will have a fiduciary duty as trustee to follow the instructions of the trust document regarding the trust assets, but any assets outside the trust would need to be covered by a will and have her named executor to be legally bound to follow the will instructions.
A letter of instruction will save the executor a lot of trouble and save on accountant and attorney fees in administering the estate, leaving more money for your loved ones.
A letter of instruction includes, but is not limited to, the following:
1. Locations of documents- A list of legal documents, such as wills, trust documents, and powers of attorney, etc., and their location. Be sure to include the location and instructions to computer programs (financial software) and file names where this information may be stored.
2. Contact list- A contact list of names and phone numbers of close family members.
3. Remains- Description of prepaid funeral arrangements, or an indication of a preference for one funeral home over another. A statement of the type of desired funeral and whether burial, cremation, or body donation is preferred. The location of a pre-purchased burial plot or preference.
4. Charities- A preference for charities to receive donations in your honor.
5. Hospitals- Preferences for certain hospitals.
6. Financial status- A relatively current list of assets and debts.
7. Insurance- A list of insurance policies including life, medical, disability, long-term care, and property insurance.
8. Investments- The location of all investment account statements.
9. Titles- The location of all deeds to property.
10. Taxes- The location of copies of tax returns.
11. Personal resources- The name, address and telephone number of the following people:
* The family doctor
* The family attorney
* The family accountant
* The family stock broker(s)
* The religious leader and house of worship.