May 21, 2020

What is a ‘Letter of Wishes’?

Written by Amy Matthews
Letters of Wishes

A Letter of Wishes is a document that is carried alongside your Will.

The letter can offer guidance to your executors and trustees as to what your specific personal wishes are and how best to carry them out.

Whilst it is not legally binding, you can include almost anything in your Letter of Wishes. It is a confidential document for your Executors and Trustees only, but you should be especially careful to ensure it does not contain anything that conflicts with your Will.

Common uses for a Letter of Wishes include:-
– Who to inform or not to inform of your passing

– Specific funeral directions such as the location of ashes, song or floral requests that have not been detailed in your Will

– Sometimes people use a Letter of Wishes to enclose a list of their main assets, including bank accounts, login details and passwords to social media accounts, life insurance policies, expensive items or jewellery and their location, and more – all of which will help your executors in the administration of the estate.

– Advice to guardians on how you would like your children to be raised (such as religious or educational preferences) and where they live.

– Providing of longer-term guidance with regards to on-going trusts established on your death.

A Letter of Wishes can also be used to assist your Executors in the unpleasant event that your Will is challenged in the future, or if you have any concerns that this may be the case.

One of the most prevalent uses for a Letter of Wishes is to provide an explanation as to why you have excluded someone from your Will or have not treated them as favourably as they might expect.

Whilst you can never prevent your Will from being challenged, there are mechanisms that can be put in place to make sure any future challenge would be less likely to succeed.

A letter outlining your decision and reasons for exclusion of a person is often an integral document used by your Executors if proven necessary to defend your estate when you pass away.

A Letter of Wishes can be updated as many times as you like before your passing without the need to amend or update your Will. We always recommend reviewing your Will regularly, and the same can be said for your Letter of Wishes to ensure that your views and intentions are properly reflected.

A Letter of Wishes should be written in plain English, signed and dated, but unlike a Will, does not have to be witnessed.

You do not necessarily need a solicitor to draft a Letter of Wishes for you – your own words are often better in these circumstances. However, solicitors are experienced and expert in writing wills and running and administering trusts who can guide you through the issues to think about.

We often consult clients on the drafting of Letters of Wishes alongside Wills to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible upon your passing.

If you’re not sure what to include or how to include it, start with a rough draft of your wishes which your solicitor can then translate into a letter of wishes for you to ensure what is written truly reflects what you want to say.

For more information, call 01792 450010 or email [email protected] and click here to visit our Wills page –