The importance of making a will and keeping it up to date can never be emphasised enough. Your will sets out how you would like your financial assets to be distributed after you die. However, if you have a second family or think your will may be unpopular with family members who may feel left out, then you might also want to leave a letter of wishes to be stored alongside your will.
Sometimes fulfilling personal wishes can be as important as how your financial assets are distributed among family and friends. You may have specific wishes for your many personal effects that are too small to be named in your will. Knowing that items with sentimental but no financial value, such as photographs and keepsakes, will be left to someone who will treasure them can be a great comfort.
A letter of wishes can also guide your nominated executors through specific things that you would like to happen after your death. For example, you may want to leave more detailed instructions about practical issues such as the care of pets and passwords for online accounts. While a letter of wishes is not binding upon your executors, it may prove extremely helpful to them as they try to fulfil your requests.
Without a letter of wishes your executors will have little guidance from you and instead have to use their own judgement. This may differ from what you or the rest of your family would have liked. It can also help the court understand your intentions in the event of a dispute about the contents of your will.
If you have young children, you should also consider writing a separate letter of wishes addressed to the people you are appointing as guardians of your children. This letter can cover issues such as which school you would like your children to attend, religious beliefs you would to be observed, or how much contact you would like them to keep with extended family. This can give you peace of mind that they your guardians have some guidance on how you would like your children to be raised.
A letter of wishes can be added or changed at any time without the need for your entire will to be changed.
For further information on leaving a letter of wishes or making a will, contact Shelly Wainwright in the wills and probate team on 01543 267 984 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ansons Solicitors has offices in Cannock and Lichfield, Staffordshire.