A letter of wishes is simply a non-binding letter, stored with the will, that states certain desires of the client. They have a variety of different uses. This article is intended to show what clients could be doing with letters of wishes, and how WillPack can assist with this.
Letters of Wishes for Trusts
Letters of wishes are commonly drawn up alongside discretionary trusts, flexible life interest trusts (FLITs) and disabled persons trusts. These trusts have discretionary powers to apply trust assets for the beneficiaries as the trustees see fit. The letter of wishes will therefore give guidance to the trustees on any particular intentions or concerns that the client has. For example, a potential beneficiary of a discretionary trust may be a spendthrift and the trust has been included to protect that beneficiary’s inheritance.
WillPack can assist with drafting letters of wishes for these trusts. Our cost for this is either £20 plus VAT for a single letter of wishes, or £30 plus VAT for a pair. We have uploaded instruction forms for letters of wishes for these three trusts to the Partner Area of our website along with an amended price list that includes letters of wishes. All other prices are unaffected.
The instruction forms contain a number of common requests that could be included in the letter of wishes, however you and the client should not feel restricted by these options. A number of free type boxes are included in the instructions and you should feel free to write more detailed wishes in those. We will be as accommodating to the client’s wishes as possible and will inform you if we believe that the client’s wishes are not possible.
The intention behind leaving personal chattels to the trustees, with the wish that they distribute according to a letter of wishes, is so that clients can specifically gift low value chattels with more flexibility. Where beneficiaries change, or they gain new items that they wish to gift, the clients can simply rewrite the letter and there is no need to change the will itself.
We therefore believe that a letter of wishes for distributing chattels is left for the clients to write themselves. A template letter is also contained in the Partner Area of the website* that contains an introductory statement and space for the client to either hand write or type their gifts and beneficiaries.
Clients should always be advised that high value chattels are best gifted in the will itself, as the trustees are not bound to distribute by the letter of wishes.
The client could consider keeping an up to date directory of the contact details of people referred to in the will. This could assist executors where the will contains a large number of gifts to wider family members and friends who the executors themselves may not know how to contact. A template for can also be found in the Partner Area of the website*.
We believe that letters of wishes regarding the reasons that a person has excluded, or provided lesser provision for, a person who could apply under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 are best written in the client’s own words. We will therefore not draft these letters of wishes.
A template for a letter of wishes, containing an introductory paragraph and space for the client to detail their reasons, is contained on the Partner Area of the website* if you wanted to provide a client with a starting point.
Where clients have detailed funeral wishes, they may wish to list these in a separate letter of wishes. Funeral wishes recorded in the will are not binding and are simply wishes. If a client has long detailed wishes, that may change in the future, it would be advisable for them to consider recording these in a letter of wishes. This would give them the flexibility to amend these as they see fit without needing to rewrite the will and incur costs. The will could also make reference to the separate letter of wishes. A template for a letter of wishes for funeral wishes can be found on the Partner Area of the website*.
Wills, and their relevant letter of wishes, may not be found until after the funeral has taken place, so it is always advisable that clients let their loved ones know their funeral wishes.
Pets and animals could be left to the trustees in the will, with the wish that they deal with the pets in accordance with a letter of wishes.
This option could be used by clients whose pets are likely to change from time to time and do not wish to constantly update the will to reflect this, or whose beneficiaries are likely to change relatively often.
A template letter is also contained in the Partner Area of the website*.
* all templates are provided as an editable Word document. You can feel free to provide the Word document to the client to type, or print a copy for the client to hand write.