Why would I write a letter of wishes?
Posted on 17th March 2020
What is a letter of wishes
In your letter of wishes you can include guidance about things that might need to be handled with discretion by your executors or trustees. You can also let your family members know how you would like them to deal with your estate.
A letter of wishes can be really important if your executors or trustees have discretion to make decisions after your death. Your letter of wishes is confidential, so you can privately explain your feelings and wishes to help them to make the right choices.
It should be written in simple, straightforward language to avoid any misunderstandings and you shouldn’t include anything that could conflict with your Will. You should sign and date it, but it doesn’t have to be witnessed.
What to include in a letter of wishes
A letter of wishes will help people to understand the provisions in your Will at a more personal level, so they can make decisions as you would wish.
The letter can cover any aspect of your estate, such as arrangements for your funeral of gifts of personal items. You can also include longer term guidance for trusts established on your death for your children, for example.
Your letter of wishes could include:
who to tell (or not to tell) about your death
whether you would like a burial or cremation, a specific type of service or what you would like to happen to your remains
who you would like to have specific items such as jewellery, furniture, or photographs
how you would like money to be managed
your wishes about how and when the main beneficiaries of any trusts should receive payments and how long you would like the trust to continue
guidance for the guardians of any young children about faith, education or where they should live
reasons for excluding someone from your Will, especially if you think they might have an expectation that they will be included, or that they might challenge your wishes.
Reviewing you letter of wishes
You can update and alter your letter of wishes at any time to reflect changes in your life. Because it doesn't have to be formally drawn up or witnessed it's easy to review. This can be helpful if, for example, you would like to leave a lot of small personal gifts.
When to write a letter of wishes
You can write a letter of wishes at any time, but it is often done when you write your Will, when thoughts about what you would like to happen after you die are at the front of your mind. You should keep your letter and Will together so that your intentions are always clear.
It’s a good idea to review your letter of wishes and Will regularly so that any changes in your personal situation or the law are properly included. If you have children you should frequently review any guidance you have given about how they should be cared for as they grow up.
Although you don’t need legal advice to write a letter of wishes, it might be a good idea to discuss you intentions with an experienced and qualified professional who can explain things that your executors, trusstees and family members might find helpful.
Please get in touch for some advice if you are considering writing a letter of wishes.
Share this post: