A letter of wishes is a confidential document that accompanies your Will, which can serve as a useful tool in providing extra guidance to executors and trustees over how you would like your wishes to be carried out. It is important to note that unlike a Will, a letter of wishes is not legally binding.
Your executors and trustees can refer to the letter in order to reach early decisions in line with the terms of your Will. There are a number of benefits of writing a letter of wishes which are as follows:
- Determining funeral arrangements
Penrose Wills are able to provide pre-paid funeral plans at highly competitive prices allowing you to pay for your funeral in advance of passing away, fixed at today’s prices.
However in a letter of wishes, you can note what music you would like played, the flowers you would like displayed and also any readings you would like to be read.
- Distribution of small personal items
In the event of having a lot of personal items (chattels) such as cars, ornaments or watches which you would like to gift to a number of people, you can include a clause in your Will that allows such tangible movable property (property that can be touched and is movable) to be gifted to your executors with a wish for them to distribute such items as per your letter of wishes. It is important to note that money is not classified as tangible movable property.
- Advising guardians
In the event that you have children under the age of 18 and have parental responsibility, you will be able to appoint guardians in your Will.
A letter of wishes can give guidance to your chosen guardian(s) over how you would like your minor children to be raised, educated and where you would like them to reside.
- Managing expectations
A letter of wishes can also prove useful in managing family expectations over distribution, wealth and any business interests you may have.
- Excluding someone from your Will
It is important to include a clause in your Will as to why someone who may have a claim on your estate is being excluded. In this instance it is also advisable to write a letter of wishes, detailing why such person has not been included in further detail.
If such person tries to bring a claim against your estate, the court can consider your letter of wishes.
As mentioned, a letter of wishes is not legally binding. However, as well as for the reasons listed above, it is a useful tool for making sure your less formal wishes for your estate are documented. The letter should be written in English, addressed to your executors and should only be signed and dated by you. In any event it should not be witnessed to avoid any claim of it being considered a valid Will or codicil.
Jamie Howell – Director
13th May 2020