In addition to writing a will and establishing trusts within your estate plan, you might be keen on complementing them with further information and guidance on how you would like your assets to be handled, this is where a Letter of Wishes will come in place.
What is a Letter of Wishes?
A Letter of Wishes is a non-legally binding document that accompanies your will and/or trusts and provides guidance for persons dealing with your estate after and on matters that require their discretion.
You can arrange for your Letter of Wishes to be shared with the beneficiaries or to only be seen by your executor of will and/or trustees.
What Should You Include in a Letter of Wishes?
Your Letter of Wishes can read like an intimate letter or a formal contract and can contain anything, from details relating to funeral wishes, distribution of your assets to guidance on distribution of funds held within a trust.
Some examples of how a Letter of Wishes can be utilised:
- It can be addressed to your executor of will on specificities of your funeral; from who to notify to how you would like the service to be conducted.
- It can be addressed to your trustees on considerations for each beneficiary before distribution of funds.
- It can be written to your beneficiaries to convey your last words and encouragement as well as reasons for how you have structured your estate plan.
The main purpose of a Letter of Wishes is to ensure that your intentions towards what you have laid out in your estate plan are understood thus whatever the content may be, it should not be in conflict with the terms in your will or trusts.
When Should You Write a Letter of Wishes?
It is recommended that you write a Letter of Wishes at the same time that you are writing a will and/or establishing a trust, this is so that you can ensure that the contents of your Letter of Wishes support your estate plan.
It is also ideal to review it every time you review and update your estate plan such that the details are up to date according to your current circumstances.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Write a Letter of Wishes?
Similarly to how it is best to not die without a will, it is equally important that your intentions and wishes are understood. While you do not need a lawyer to write a Letter of Wishes, it is wise to consult an estate planning lawyer while you write it to guide you through the issues to think about and to ensure that relevant topics are covered based on your wishes.