A letter of wishes is a confidential document which accompanies your will. A letter of wishes normally will include your wishes regarding your assets (property, cash, and physical possessions) and other personal matters. A will can become accessible to the public so you may wish to use a letter of wishes to keep your private matters confidential. A letter of wishes can include details as to why certain family members were excluded from the will, family secrets or just a detailed letter of reflection and encouragement to your family; whatever you wish to include will remain confidential regardless of the status of your will. This document is used to accompany a will to ensure any wishes that you did not want to put into your will are still heard.
How to write a letter of wishes:

You can write a letter of wishes to accompany your will wherever you live in the UK. The only requirement for this letter is that it does not conflict with your will otherwise it will be disregarded.

  • There is no set format for a letter of wishes either, but it is recommended that the following should be included:
  • The date it was written
  • A set of wishes
  • Your signature
  • Who it is addressed to (e.g. your executors or your spouse/civil partner)

Your set of wishes will be the main body of this document. When developing a set of wishes it is important to think carefully about what you include.

  • A set of wishes can include but are not limited to:
  • How you would like your assets to be allocated once you die
  • Relevant details as to what funeral service you would like
  • Words of encouragement or reflection for your family
  • Details of people you would like to have informed of your death
  • Explanations of decisions you have made, e.g., if you have excluded someone from your will
  • Details as to who you would like to raise your children and what type of upbringing you would like them to have
  • Explanations of any personal or familial matters which may help to resolve any disputes once you have passed away

This document does not need to be witnessed as a will or a codicil may be, it just needs to be placed in a proximity to your will so they can be used in conjunction.

Why you should consider writing a letter of wishes:

You should consider writing a letter of wishes if you would prefer to keep certain wishes confidential and therefore out of your will. If you feel like you would like to explain any decisions, you have made in your will or any familial issues which you feel may resolve future conflicts, a letter of wishes may also be suitable. If you would just like the opportunity to reflect and explain yourself this may also be a good method to do this. People write a letter of wishes for a variety of reasons or motives; it is not a letter required by law but an option available for you, nonetheless.

Important considerations:

A letter of wishes is not legally binding so if you use yours for the assignment of assets you must consider that these wishes can be disregarded by those in charge of executing your will or estate (collection of assets). Therefore, any wishes you would like to have legal authority should be placed in your will.

A letter of wishes is sometimes the more appropriate choice, as wills must follow a legal format which can make it difficult to include your wishes or write in extended ways. It is important to determine which wishes you would like to be legally binding and include these in your will and what wishes you would like to act as guidance and place these in your letter of wishes.

How SharedAffairs can help:

Once you have written a letter of wishes you can upload this to our site for secure online storage. Any documents uploaded are stored securely and only released to your chosen contacts once our authentication process is carried out. SharedAffairs removes the need for relatives or friends to search for physical documents and instead seamlessly delivers these directly to your chosen contacts, saving them time and energy allowing them to carry out your wishes in an efficient way.

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