The Letter of wishes complements your Will and enables you to list who gets those items of limited financial worth but of great sentimental value.
The Letter of wishes (or statement of wishes) is a written statement by the person whose wishes are being expressed of how he or she wishes the executor to deal with items of their estate that are not covered in the will.
Although the Letter of wishes is not legally binding, it is unlikely that executors will disregard the wishes expressed in it, especially if it is written when you write or update your will.
So, while your valuable assets should be bequeathed to whoever you wish in your will or sold by your executor(s) to become part of the residue value of your estate, the Letter of wishes is normally where you list who you want to receive specific personal belongings of limited value, known as ‘chattels’ or 'moveables’.
It also enables you to describe why these items have an emotional or sentimental value, their ‘histories’ and importance to you, and why you have chosen the persons you wish to receive them.
This can be useful in avoiding family disputes about who should get what.
It is a good idea to:
- involve or inform your executor or close family members;
- write your letter of wishes at the same time as you make your will;
- show your solicitor your letter of wishes to ensure they don’t conflict with your will;
- keep your letter of wishes with your will;
- update your letter of wishes from time to time.