Your End Date. The most crucial detail in a resignation letter is your end date. Legally and according to your company's policy, you might be required to give a minimum amount of notice (two weeks, or possibly more, depending on the company and the role). If that's the case, you don't want there to be any confusion about how much notice you give. If it's right there in writing in a letter dated two weeks before your last day, you're saving yourself the hassle.
Spot the Signs. According to Alison Green, who writes the blog Ask a Manager, this is common practice for some industries, especially if you're leaving to work for a direct competitor. However, in those situations, you'll likely know it's coming and can prepare accordingly.