Should I write a Letter of Wishes?

Should I write a Letter of Wishes?

Perhaps we should start off by explaining what a Letter of Wishes is…

A Letter of Wishes can give a bit more detailed explanation to your Executors and Guardians as to how you would like things to happen following your death. However, a Letter of Wishes is not legally binding.

So, could you just write a Letter of Wishes, rather than a Will?

In short, no.

A Letter of Wishes is NOT legally binding, whereas a Will is. The Will will ensure that the specifics stated in your Will are put into action.

Your Will will set out exactly who you want as your Executors, Trustees and even the Guardians of your children, as well as who should benefit from your Estate and how it should be distributed.

So why have a Letter of Wishes?

Although your Will is legally binding, your Letter of Wishes can go a bit further and give guidance and advice to those that you have appointed under your Will.

Some of the main areas that are focussed on in a Letter of Wishes are:

  • Guidance for Guardians

Although your Will can state who you want to take care of your children should the worst happen, the Letter of Wishes can give more detailed guidance on the specifics as to how you would like your children to be raised and brought up. Of course, you will have appointed those that you trust implicitly as your Guardians and those that you know will only ever act in your children’s best interests but a Letter of Wishes can help to get some of your specifics on paper and give you that extra peace of mind.

  • Guidance for Trustees

If you have Discretionary Trusts within your Will then it will be up to your Trustees to manage and distribute the Trust assets to the named beneficiaries. A Letter of Wishes can state how you would like the Trustees to act and use their powers, if there is more than one beneficiary to the Trust, the Letter of Wishes could state who you would like to be the main beneficiary. However, it is important to remember that this is only guidance as a Letter of Wishes is not legally binding.

  • Personal Items

You may well have many small items and personal belongings that you do not want to list out and gift in your Will but may well hold some sentimental value and that you would like to pass to specific beneficiaries. Where there are many items it may be easier for you to state in your Will that you are leaving the distribution of your personal items to you Executors and you would like them to distribute these in accordance with your Letter of Wishes. A clause like this, has the benefit of allowing you to change and update the Letter of Wishes regularly and as necessary, without having to amend your entire Will.

  • Exclusions

Although the exclusion of a specific individual will be dealt with within your Will, a Letter of Wishes can give an explanation as to your reasons for the exclusion and may well be considered by the Court should that individual make a claim against your Estate in the future.

If you would like more information, to discuss putting Wills & Trusts in place, or writing a Letter of Wishes, call us on 01727 865 121 or email us at for a free consultation

Leah Waller

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