Letter of Wishes
It is becoming increasingly common to include a Letter of Wishes with a Will as executors and trustees then have guidance from the individual.
What is a Letter of Wishes?
A Letter of Wishes is a confidential document which provides personal guidance to executors and trustees.
A Will provides instructions that are legally binding relating to the estate of the deceased. The executors of the estate have a legal duty to distribute gifts 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.
Whilst a Letter of Wishes is not a legally binding document, it can offer guidance as to what should be done with personal possessions. These items may not be of substantial financial value (therefore perhaps not memtioned in the Will) but could be of high sentimental value.
A Letter of Wishes can also outline other arrangements, such as funeral arrangement wishes, or who would be responsible for the guardianship of any dependants.
It can also be used alongside a Lasting Power of Attorney to provide guidance in health and welfare matters.
How does a Letter of Wishes work?
A Letter of Wishes can be stored with the Will and enables the individual to change guidance without having to change the Will itself. It outlines the personal wishes of an individual so can be useful in reaching decisions regarding the estate.
What are the 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. 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.