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Letter of Wishes

It is becoming increasingly common to include a Letter of Wishes with a Will. It is not a legally binding document, but it can provide clear guidance to the Executors and Trustees as they distribute property, money and possessions.

A Letter of Wishes can also be used alongside a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to provide guidance in health and welfare matters.

What is a Letter of Wishes?

A Letter of Wishes is a confidential document which provides personal guidance to Executors and Trustees.

It outlines the personal wishes of an individual so can be useful in reaching decisions regarding the Estate. It can be stored with the Will and enables the individual to change guidance without having to change the Will itself.

On one hand, a Will provides instructions that are legally binding relating to the Estate of the deceased. The Executors have a legal duty to distribute gifts (usually of value) in accordance with the instructions of the Will.

It becomes difficult to outline every personal effect that an individual may want distributed and the Will would need to be consistently updated – this is where a Letter of Wishes might be put to good use.

Whilst a Letter of Wishes is not legally binding, it can offer guidance as to what should be done with personal possessions. Typically, these items may not be of substantial financial value (therefore perhaps not mentioned in the Will) but could be of high sentimental value.

A Letter of Wishes can also outline other arrangements, like preferred arrangements for the funeral, or who would be responsible for the guardianship of any dependants.

Where it is used in conjunction with an LPA, its intention is to provide additional guidance to the Attorney in relation to health and welfare matters.

What are its limitations?

As a Letter of Wishes is not a legally binding document, there is a risk that wishes may not be carried out exactly as intended, as there is no legal obligation to do so.

We recommend that a Letter of Wishes should not be used for items of substantial value or anything where an individual is certain of their intentions – these items should be included in the Will.

How to write a Letter of Wishes

We recommend you get professional guidance; the Letter of Wishes is not a legally binding document, but the way it has been written might affect the outcome of a challenge down the line.

Napthens has been described as “very strong” in the area of Wills and Inheritance Planning, with “an excellent and efficient team” by The Legal 500. Our professional advisers provide a sympathetic and efficient service, treating each case on an individual basis to ensure the solutions we offer are best for you personally.

Why choose Napthens?

  • Cases handled with sensitivity and professionalism
  • Advice tailored to your wishes and personal situation
  • Specialists in inheritance and Will disputes