FIVE REASONS WHY YOU NEED TO WRITE A LETTER OF WISHES WITH YOUR WILL
1. If you have appointed Guardians for your children
Lots of people use their Wills to appoint Guardians if they have children under the age of eighteen. And that’s an important reason to have a Will written. I don’t though want to go into that in this post. If you want to know more about appointing guardians in your Will you can watch my short vlog (video blog) on the subject here: https://youtu.be/tPY7ZjMCiic But fret not if YouTube is not your thing. If you prefer, simply give me a call. You’ll find my number at the bottom of this article.
Now, to get back to the point of this blog. If you’ve appointed guardians in your Will then I advise you to write what’s known in the trade as a ‘Letter of Wishes’ (LoW) that you keep with your Will.
You can use this LoW to provide guidance to:
- Your trustees – they are the people looking after the money until your children grow up.
- Your appointed guardians – people you’ve delegated parental responsibility to should you and your husband/partner both die while your offspring are under the age of eighteen.
You can create your LoW as an MS Word document. Then you can update it as time goes by, if needs be, without having to re write the whole thing. In the letter you could, for example, express wishes and offer guidance on how you would like your trustees to use the money held in trust for the children while they’re still growing up. For example, you could say that:
- You’re happy for them to use money for driving lessons or buying a car.
- They can use the money to pay for school fees/school uniforms/music lessons.
- You’re happy for the guardians to be advanced money to help with paying for a family holiday.
These are a few examples only and, depending on how the Will is drafted, the trustees should have enough flexibility to use the money for such purposes. But it’s always good for them and the appointed guardians to have the reassurance of your instructions.
2. If you want to leave belongings to various people
I tend to advise writing a list of who gets what in an LoW rather than listing it all out in the Will. The LoW is not legally binding but it does give your executors some flexibility to carry out the wishes as far as they can. It also has the advantage of letting you update your list without having to go to the expense of redrafting your Will. Rather, you can amend your letter of wishes at any time. Simples. As a well-known meerkat is fond of saying.
The Will should specifically refer to the letter so the executors know it exists and that they should try and follow your wishes.
3. If you want to detail your funeral wishes
You can put funeral wishes in your Will. Often, when drafting a Will, I will put into the actual body of the Will the clients wishes apropos of burial or cremation. However, if you have further wishes or know exactly what you want for your funeral, I would advise adding these instructions into the letter of wishes. Such instructions are a real help to grieving relatives as they then know that they’re carrying out your wishes. Of course, if you don’t have any strong opinions about your funeral you don’t need to go into too much detail or mention it at all. Many of my clients do, however, like to put in some details about where they might want their ashes scattered or whether they already have a burial plot or a funeral plan in place. If that’s you then add those details into your LoW.
4. If you have a Discretionary Trust in your Will
A Discretionary Trust allows the trustees the discretion to spend the Trust money as they see fit for the benefit of the various beneficiaries named in the Will. But it can be helpful if you give them examples of how they can spend the money.
5. If you are excluding someone from your Will
This is an important reason to have a letter left with the Will. There are various reasons why people may wish to exclude family members from inheriting money and it’s useful to set out your reasoning. If that family member decided to make a claim on your estate, the courts will take the letter into account as it would set out your considered reasons why you did not feel the need to leave money to that person. It could be, for example, that they have already received money from you during their lifetime that covers their inheritance.
If you would like to find out in more detail about Letters of Wishes or indeed sorting out a Will, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07538946839 for a free consultation.