How to Do a Letter of Wishes
Are you interested in preparing a Letter of Wishes? This document can prove useful to the executor or executors of your estate upon your passing as they work to carry out the instructions to leave out for them. We’ll go over what you should include in a letter of wishes template, and all the other details to make the most of this legacy planning tool.
But first, is a Letter of Wishes legally binding?
The answer to this question will come from the definition of a Letter of Wishes. A Letter of Wishes is a document that serves as an accompaniment to your Will. While the contents inside a will are legally binding, the stipulations within a Letter of Wishes are not. In the United Kingdom, a Common Law country, as well as the United States, you can find a Letter of Wishes as an option as an appendix document for wills. In the United States, the primary context for a Letter of Wishes “...is a settlor of a trust’s non-binding expression of intent to trustees.” This document is useful in the context of a discretionary trust deed because of the fact it expresses intent to trustees. Whether a trust instrument or an accompaniment to a will, the aim is to represent the desires of the person signing the binding document through clarification.
When is it useful to have a Letter of Wishes?
One of the instances that makes a Letter of Wishes especially useful is concerning the distribution of your assets. Why? That’s because if you go into exact detail about who would like to have your Patek Philippe watch, your grandmother’s diamond engagement ring or the artwork hanging up in your holiday home in the legally-binding will, it makes it rather complex to make amendments. However, should you need to make a change to a Letter of Wishes, it’s quite easy to do so. You would have to draft a new one and sign it.
When it comes to expressions of wish vs a will, that entails that the stipulations in your Letter of Wishes are not legally binding, and as such, the executors only are required to carry out what you state in your Will. It gives executors the freedom to carry out your desires without having to carry out any legal formalities.
Does a Letter of Wishes have to be witnessed?
A Letter of Wishes does not require any witnesses, and therefore, you do not need any witnesses when signing it. Should you change your mind in your previous Letter of Wishes, you can write a new one and attach it to your Will. Remember that you must include your signature for it to have any impact. Having a witness to your Letter of Wishes could potentially complicate legacy planning matters because you could run the risk of someone contesting you will. It’s possible that it could either invalidate one or both of the wills.
What can you put in a Letter of Wishes template?
Your Letter of Wishes can explain some of the following issues:
- List each individual who should inherit personal assets instead of complicating the Will by individually listing them
- Denote how your executors should distribute your everyday belongings
- Tasking a trusted individual to receive items you stated in your Will
- Tasking a trusted individual to distribute items per your Will
- Amend asset distribution requests in case you change your mind after drafting your Will
- Listing all your primary assets to facilitate their location by executors (you should also put this in your Will because the Letter of Wishes is not legally binding)
- Funeral arrangements
Would you like to start preparing your Letter of Wishes?
Our Legacy Planning team at Europe Emirates Group is ready to attend to all your needs, including in helping you draft your Letter of Wishes. We also offer a Professional Custody Centre for all your essential legacy documents to ensure you can safeguard your requests regardless of any situation. If you would like to get started today, don’t hesitate to contact us.