What is a Letter of Wishes?

Jul 18, 2021 | Wills

What is a letter of wishes and how is it different to a Will?

A Letter of Wishes is a document that accompanies your Will. It is not legally binding but can guide your Executors and Trustees to ensure your personal wishes are carried out.

 

The purpose of a letter of wishes is to support the Will and aid the persons dealing with your estate. It therefore should not contain anything that conflicts with your Will. The letter can cover any aspect of your estate, such as funeral wishes or the distribution of your personal items, and it can also provide longer term guidance with regards to on-going trusts established on your death.

One benefit of a letter of wishes is that you can update and alter it at any time to reflect any changes in your circumstances. It doesn’t have to be formally drawn up or witnessed, so it’s easy to review. This can be helpful if, for example, you have a long list of specific items that you wish to give to various people.

Another benefit is that unlike a Will, a letter of wishes does not become a public document after your death and therefore it allows you to keep some information private. For example you may be cutting someone out of your will but don’t like the idea of airy your dirty laundry in public – a letter of wishes allows you to state your reasons and will act as further evidence should your Executors require it, but will not be out there in the public domain.

It is particularly important to prepare a letter of wishes where executors and/or trustees have discretion to make decisions, as knowing your intentions will help them when exercising their powers.

The letter can advise on anything, but most common uses include:

• Who to notify of your death, or in some cases, who not to tell.

• The style of funeral you want, whether you want burial or cremation, and any specific instructions regarding the service, where you would like to be buried or have your ashes sprinkled.

• Listing your main assets, including bank accounts, life insurance policies, expensive items or jewellery and their location, which will help your executors in the administration of your estate. These items should also be included in your Will, as the Letter of Wishes is not legally binding.

• Guiding your executors or trustees on how you would like any money managed, or trusts created in your Will to be run. Where trusts are involved, you could include details relating to the main beneficiaries and your wishes about when to make payments. You can also include your thoughts on how long the trust should continue.

• Advising guardians on how you would like your children to be raised, their religious upbringing, education, and where they live. These details should be reviewed as the children grow up.

• Giving more detailed information to help your executors identify specific items you are giving away in your Will.

• Providing explanations as to why you have excluded someone from the Will, if you think that it may be a controversial decision or challenged later.

• Details of how you would like your personal items to be distributed after your death, such as jewellery, furniture, clothing and photographs.

 

A letter of wishes should be written in plain English, signed and dated, but not witnessed to avoid any claim that it has become a legal Will or codicil.

It is important to remember that a letter is wishes is exactly as it implies, that is, an expression of wish – it is not legally binding. Therefore, if you want your instructions to be legally binding, they should be included in your Will.

MGF Wills & Estate Planning offers a free consultation, so call or message today to get advice tailored to your circumstances.

Or, if you’d rather arrange a face to face appointment:

Hannah Dunmall
Hannah Dunmall
04/03/2021
Verified
I would highly recommend MGF. Marie guided us kindly and professionally from the first initial phone call to the final signing. She provided an un-pressured, user friendly service, that was very personal and efficient. We were very ignorant around the whole subject of wills and lasting powers of attorney, but Marie always made us feel that no question was a stupid one, and gave her time and attention to ensure we understood all that was involved. We have peace of mind now that we have everything in order, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Marie.
Nicole Falleur
Nicole Falleur
26/02/2021
Verified
I found this lady's business on an online search for a local will writer / solicitor for my Mother & I to write our wills after having not so positive experiences with previous companies we'd tried & Mum preferred to relate to a lady & I found that she was in our area & the only 1 who had 100% 5* Star ratings from all her customers who'd left reviews ! So we contacted her & went from there ! 🙂 We could not have found or wished for anyone better ! She offers such a personal service & is so easy to communicate with & is very knowledgeable & goes "the extra mile", nothing seems too much trouble & despite being a very busy woman, she gives as many extra hours of her time as her clients need & she does it all at a set fee ! She does not charge extra add on, additional charges for every hour, phonecall, Zoom call, visit, paperwork she does for you, she keeps to the very competitive price she quoted at the outset, which we found most unusual & refreshingly nice & welcome & very much appreciated indeed, no hidden charges or fear of nasty, frightening financial surprises ! She is such a very lovely person, personable, natural & relaxed to deal with, competent & efficient, keeps her word & punctual, doesn't let you down. We couldn't find better & she truly exceeded our expectations & we will use her again as she offers multiple legal services as listed on her website. Thank you Marie !
Victoria Shortland
Victoria Shortland
26/02/2021
Verified
Fabulous service from MGF Wills and Estate Planning. Marie was very helpful and answered our many many questions very patiently! I felt that Marie really knows her stuff and is very reasonably priced. Highly recommended.
Mr Clive Wills
Mr Clive Wills
12/02/2021
Verified
My wife and I had Mirror Wills drawn up. Marie was very professional, friendly and excellent communication throughout. She talked us through all aspects of wills. A very straightforward process and job done promptly. Completed in a Covid safe way. We would definitely recommend MGF.
Lissy Evett
Lissy Evett
11/02/2021
Verified
My objective was to find a good and affordable Will writing service that could accommodate me in a timely manner. I found all of those things with Marie Forkner, from the MGF Wills & Estate Planning Service. Great customer service, professional, knowledgeable, and friendly. I highly recommend MGF Wills & Estate Planning Service. Excellent!
Kerry Davis
Kerry Davis
01/02/2021
Verified
Please do not hesitate in using MGF Wills. Excellent, knowledgeable service with unbiased advice and guidance. Look no further for your future planning needs. Highly recommended to anyone considering Will writing/storage etc. Wouldn’t hesitate recommending to friends and family A*.
Doug
Doug
24/01/2021
Verified
We would highly recommend MGF Wills. We had a will made last year. Marie was thorough, patient and willing to answer all our questions. There was no pressure put on us. Pricing was clear from the start. Highly recommended.
Carruthers Family
Carruthers Family
20/01/2021
Verified
Friendly advise & clear directions making completing our 1st Wills very straight forward. Have already recommended to a friend. It didn’t matter that it was all completed over the phone rather than face to face.
Mark C
Mark C
18/01/2021
Verified
Great service, competitively priced and quick turn around time. Marie explained everything clearly and was very knowledgeable. Would definitely recommend.
Mark Smith
Mark Smith
13/01/2021
Verified
Marie drew up the wills for my partner and I. She was professional and accommodating throughout the entire process. Everything was explained clearly and there was no such thing as a silly question. She even took the time to walk us through the signing process with our neighbours! We would thoroughly recommend Marie and will be using her in future if and when we need to update our wills.