After you've prepared a will - giving your executor(s) some breadcrumbs in case the worst happens

If you've finally managed to have a will and enduring power of attorney documents prepared and executed, congratulations! Let's hope that they will never come into effect and that the best they will do is provide you with peace of mind while you live a healthy and happy life.

However, there is one important piece of homework that you need to do after preparing these documents. This is to let the executor(s)/attorneys/guardians that you have nominated in these documents know that you have nominated them. It's important that they know this, and that they know where to find the documents in question. And if the worst happens and they need to act in this capacity, the least you can do is give them some breadcrumbs to help them do it with less stress and anxiety than might otherwise be the case. 

What I've prepared below is a template for an email that you might want to alter, as appropriate, to send to the people you have nominated. If you have suggestions for things that might be added or removed, let me know!

NB. One thing I haven't included in this email is a reference to how you maintain your digital life. It is almost certain that you executor will want to be able to access your computer and possibly some online services that you use, and these may have passwords. I wouldn't advise you to send an email to someone explaining how they can access all of your private digital information. But you should consider how you might do this. No doubt, this will be the subject of a future post.  

Hi [Joe],

I've recently [prepared a/updated my] will and some enduring power of attorney documents. [As you know,] I've nominated you as a backup executor[, acting jointly with [Jane's brother John],] in case something happens to both [Jane] and I at the same time. Thanks in advance.

Just so you know, the relevant documents are stored at [location]. To help you piece everything together, the following breadcrumbs will be useful:

  • As well as these documents, I have prepared a Letter of Wishes document to accompany my will. This letter is located at [location] and includes a lot  of information, including [burial/cremation] and funeral requests. One of the reasons I have selected you as a backup executor is because I trust that you will act on these wishes if practicable.
  • I store important documents [explain - remember, you may store documents physically and electronically, eg in the filing cabinet in the office at home. I also have a directory on my computer called "Important docs" which has electronic copies of important documents and other important information]
  • My accountant is [name, firm, and address]
  • My financial adviser is [name, firm, and address]
  • I have superannuation with [name of super fund trustee(s)] [and I have a significant amount of insurance held within superannuation]
  • I have insurance outside of superannuation with [issuer(s) of insurance product(s)]
  • I [am trustee/act as a director of a corporate trustee [XYZ Pty Ltd] (of which I am also a shareholder)]  of [details of relevant trust(s)]
  • In terms of business succession arrangements, I have arranged [eg mechanisms such as buy-sell arrangements and possibly relevant insurance. You'll probably want to chat with [XYZ] in relation to this].

Thanks and happy to chat about this. With any luck you won't need to give this a second thought. 


[Your name]

Sonnie Bailey

Sonnie is the founder and principal of Fairhaven Wealth.

Before founding Fairhaven Wealth, Sonnie worked in the legal and financial services industries for over a decade.

Sonnie first became involved with financial advice as a specialist financial services lawyer. For many years, he was an “adviser of advisers”, reviewing thousands of advice files prepared by hundreds of financial advisers, and providing feedback in relation to the quality and appropriateness of advice; industry best practice; risk management; and regulatory compliance. He has published work in industry publications and spoken at various financial advice conferences.

Sonnie has also worked with banks, investment management firms, insurers, and derivatives providers.

Sonnie has worked as a private client lawyer, focusing on succession, estate planning and trusts. He ran his own legal firm in Australia before relocating to New Zealand. He has also acted in independent trustee and company director positions.

Sonnie is passionate about helping people achieve their goals and manage the risks to which they are exposed.

He has written extensively on his blog, New Zealand Wealth and Risk, which can be found at

Sonnie is married to his wonderful wife Chrissy, and has two young children, Ben and Anna.