It’s not pleasant to think about the possibility of having a serious condition that prevents you from making medical and financial decisions for yourself. But it’s better to be prepared and hope it never happens than to put your loved ones in the position of making decisions without knowing your wishes. You might consider using several documents, including an informal letter of instruction that you can write yourself, and legal documents — a living will and durable powers of attorney for health care and finances — that may require consulting with an attorney who is familiar with the laws of your state. When You Can’t Speak for Yourself Letter of Instruction A letter of instruction should include important information your loved ones may need, such as a list of documents and their locations, contacts for legal and financial professionals, a list of bills and creditors, login information for important online sites (but be careful with passwords), and your final wishes for burial or cremation, a funeral or memorial service, organ donation, and charitable contributions in your memory. Be sure to tell the appropriate people where they can find the letter, and keep in mind that the security of the location — for example, a desk drawer vs. a safe-deposit box — might affect what you choose to include. You can update the letter yourself at any time.