How can I use a letter of wishes when writing my will?

What Is A Letter of Wishes?

A letter of wishes can be used to supplement or accompany a will.  Its purpose is to guide your trustees and guardians, to ensure that your personal wishes are carried out. It can be written at the time that you make your will, or at a later date. The intention is to enable the writer to use plain, uncomplicated English, and to provide guidance on why they made a decision a certain way.

A letter of wishes can be helpful in a number of circumstances; including who your trustees should give your personal possessions to (or why you have excluded someone in particular from your will), as a tool for tax mitigation, to advise guardians on how you would like your children to be raised, or who you would like to take care of your pets.


Importantly, and unlike a will, the contents of a letter of wishes are confidential.  When an application is made for Probate, the will becomes a public document, but the letter of wishes remains private, to be considered only by your trustees.  

Therefore, it can be used to explain to your trustees why you have left assets in a particular way, perhaps why you may not have included someone in your will, and your reasoning behind this decision.  

Crucially, your beneficiaries have no right to see your letter of wishes, and although they are not immune from disclosure, a Court will not disclose it to your beneficiaries unless there is good reason to do so.

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It should be noted that your trustees do not need to follow a letter of wishes – they are under no legal obligation to do so.  There is also the concern that a letter of wishes can be detached from your will and lost.  If you therefore have certain wishes that your trustees must follow, you should consider documenting them in your will instead.

Contact One Of Our Private Client Solicitors Today

Should you have any questions in relation to making a Will or writing a letter of wishes, then our Private Client department will be happy to help.