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A financial love letter

Her dad's financial love letter, detailing everything that should take place when he dies, may inspire you to be just as prepared for your own kids

By Laura Wheatman Hill

March 7, 2022

A few years ago, my 76-year-old father gave me a file labeled "financial love letter," containing a copy of his will and further instructions on what to do if he is incapacitated or dies.

The letter had his lawyer and bank contact numbers as well as passwords and other sensitive information. I glanced at it and put it in my file cabinet.


  • My 76-year-old father sent me and my sister his advanced care directive alongside his will.

  • There will never be a question in our minds as to what to do with our father's assets when he dies.

  • Due to my father's forward thinking, it has inspired me to do the same for my own children.

This year, he sent my sister and me a new addendum his advanced care directive. I saw from the document that he drew it up with an estate lawyer. According to the document he gave me, his oldest child, power of attorney if he was unable to make his own decisions. I'm also the executor of his estate when the time comes.

It's more than just a will

The advanced care directive also broke down in no uncertain terms exactly what my dad wants for his medical intervention, funeral procedures, and even music choices in the event that he has a stroke, or something similar, and couldn't advocate for himself.

At Thanksgiving, he gave my sister and me each an updated file with his new will, the advanced care directive, and a USB with the documents uploaded digitally. He also told me he has hard copies of everything in a safety deposit box at his bank that I have access to.

I visited my childhood best friend on my holiday weekend visiting home and told her all about my dad's letter. Even though both her parents are alive and therefore each other's executors, I encouraged her to ask them if they have all this set up in case something happens to one or both of them.

Even though it's morbid to think about our dad dying, my sister and I discussed the letter and decided we are very happy that he put in the work to tell us exactly how he wants everything to play out. There is no gray area about who gets which assets, or what percentage of his estate.

I'm not going to have to debate with my sister about whether he wants resuscitation or extended care if he is in a vegetative state or has reached the end stages of a degenerative condition — he told us. He also told me I get to use my best judgment about moving him to a facility near me if he needs care.

He planned and paid for his funeral, reserved the plot next to our mother, and gave me step-by-step instructions for who to talk to about selling his house and dividing up his assets.

He has a couple other beneficiaries in his will, and gave me instructions on how those work. His lawyer advised him not to tell us any specific amounts of money to reduce possible conflict, which while fair is hopefully unnecessary.

I'm inspired to write one for my own kids now

My dad's exhaustive work reminded me that I never updated my will after my divorce. I didn't set up my kids' college fund in my name, either.

I need to set up a trust for them so that if I die, their father has access to my estate to use for the care of our kids.

If somehow my ex-husband and I both die before my kids are adults, I need to make sure my kids' next of kin is properly acknowledged and the trust would go to them.

The paperwork is not fun, and you do need to pay a lawyer to help you with it. However, having everything set up so your family or other beneficiary knows what to do when you die or become too ill to care for yourself is a true act of love.

My dad says he's shooting to live until age 92. I very much hope he makes it, and is happy and healthy along the way. That said, I'm very relieved to know that whenever it happens, it'll be clear how to best honor him and move on with peace and clarity.

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1 commentaire

Joseph Maurer
Joseph Maurer
12 août 2023

Great article and idea. I would like to write my own. Do you have a blueprint that you can share?

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