Why you need a Letter of Wishes with your Will

by | Apr 3, 2023

If you’ve never heard of a Letter of Wishes before, you’re not alone, even if you’ve already made a will. We think they’re an essential part of the process as they can help to ensure that your wishes are carried out when you’re gone.

Here are a few reasons why you need a Letter of Wishes to go with your Will.

Your beneficiaries are under 18

If some of the beneficiaries of your will could be under 18 when you die, your will must include a trust to hold the money until they’re old enough to inherit. You can specify whether you want them to inherit at 18 or older or when they leave school or university. However, if they’re your children, your will should include instructions on who will look after them if you can’t and leave money for their care.

You want to leave instructions for your children’s guardians

Your child’s guardians can apply for money to take care of them, and a Letter of Wishes can include instructions on what they can use the money for. This can include school uniforms and trips, university costs, buying their first car or even helping them start a business. You can also talk about how you’d like them to be brought up and include their likes and dislikes and current hobbies. Your Letter of Wishes can include interim housing arrangements if they need to move or any critical times when you don’t want them to face upheaval, for example, when they’re taking exams.

You need to protect a beneficiary or your assets

You can use a discretionary trust in your will to protect your assets or a vulnerable beneficiary. If one of your beneficiaries has a care plan or receives means-tested benefits, a lump sum inheritance can mean they lose the support they need. If a relative has substance abuse or addiction issues, a trust can help you look after them by leaving money for their rent or bills. The trustees can apply for money from the trust on their behalf, and your Letter of Wishes can let them know what that money could be used for.

You might even want to give a family member some breathing space before they inherit, for example, if they’re going through a messy divorce or relocating.

You’re leaving someone out

If you’ve decided to leave a close relative out of your will, your dependents may try and challenge your decision. Your Letter of Wishes lets you explain your reasoning. For example, you may have cut one of your children out because of an estrangement. You may also have decided to leave one child less money than the others because you’ve already given them money to buy a house and have decided to reduce their inheritance to reflect this. A Letter of Wishes can’t prevent a challenge, but it can make it easier to resolve.

You want to give extra information to your executors

A Letter of Wishes can provide your executors with additional information to help them deal with your estate. Personal items might not be part of a specific bequest, but you want to guide your executors on what to do with them. You could include contact details or financial information to help them trace your assets.

A Letter of Wishes isn’t legally binding, so your executors, trustees and guardians must be people you trust to follow your wishes. It doesn’t have to be written either – you could even leave voice notes.

When choosing your will writer, check if they’ll help you with your Letter of Wishes because not everyone does. We’ll guide you through the process and things to think about in more detail.

Do you need to write your will and create a Letter of Wishes? We can help. Get in touch using the form below or call us on 0116 380 0752.

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