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Letter of Wishes

What is a Letter of Wishes?

When you pass, your estate may have to go to probate. In such circumstances, upon the grant of probate, your Will becomes a public document. Contrastingly, a Letter of Wishes remains private and confidential. For this reason, many opt to draft a Letter of Wishes in addition to their Will as they do not want their personal wishes to be made public.

A Letter of Wishes, stored alongside your Will, is designed to aid executors, trustees and loved ones to navigate your Will and effect your personal wishes. A Letter of Wishes is, therefore, drafted in a way to shed light on your Will, as opposed to contradicting or confusing the contents and instructions contained in your Will.

What should you include in your Letter of Wishes?

The content of a Letter of Wishes is primarily down to your desires; in other words, it can include anything you want it to. Want your ashes scattered on Mount Snowden? Want your child’s guardian to use a certain sum of money to pay for your child’s future university fees? Want your electric guitar to go to your nephew? All of these wishes can be stipulated in your Letter of Wishes.

Examples of matters commonly found in Letter of Wishes include:

  • Who to inform (or not inform) of your passing.
  • Funeral instructions, for example, where you wish to be buried or your ashes scattered.
  • The identification and location of specific gifts such as artifacts, jewellery and art.
  • How you wish your money to be managed.
  • Instructions and advice to guardians as to how to raise your children.
  • Explanations as to why you have excluded someone from your Will. This is useful where you believe your Will may be contested.

When do you need a Letter of Wishes?

As a Letter of Wishes accompanies your Will, you only need to create a Letter of Wishes once you have a Will in place. It may be useful to draft your Letter of Wishes at the same time as drafting your Will to ensure that they coincide, and all requisite matters are covered.

Are Letter of Wishes legally binding?

A Letter of Wishes is not legally binding and therefore does not have to be followed. Consequently, you must ensure that you 100% trust those who you have appointed as executors to follow your Letter of Wishes closely.  

With trustworthy executors, trustees and loved ones, your Letter of Wishes will help massively when it comes to dealing with your estate.

If you would like professional legal advice in respect of a Letter of Wishes or matter that is related, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Wills, Trust and Estate Planning team on 01243 787899 (Chichester), 01329 282 841 (Fareham), 02392 492 300 (Havant) or 01798 342391 (Petworth).

If you would prefer to email for a quote, please contact us at hello@glanvilles.co.uk

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, legal advice, and should not be relied upon as advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. All content was correct at the time of publishing. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.