What is a Letter of Wishes?
A Letter of Wishes, also known as a Statement of Wishes, is an informal document that accompanies your Will. When you write a Will its content can become complicated quite quickly, no matter how many assets you one day leave behind. So, a Letter of Wishes help to explain your Will - and makes it easier for your executor to administer your estate than if they just had your Will to go by. It's not legally binding and it's much easier to make changes to than your official Will.
The main reason you might consider writing this kind of document is to provide extra guidance to the executor/s of your estate, across certain sections of your Will, including:
- Unexpected decisions
Include reasons as to why you haven’t named a certain beneficiary in your Will
- Care of your young children
Offer guidance to the guardians you choose for any children under the age of 18 around your education and values preferences
- The division of personal trinkets heirlooms
Advise which beneficiaries in your Will you want to receive your belongings that hold more emotional than financial value to you
- The location of important documents or assets
Explain where your executor can find any deeds, insurance information, passwords or financial information that they may need to finalise your estate
Be careful not to word your letter so that conflicts with your main Will as this could expose your estate to litigation. An experienced lawyer from Maurice Blackburn can help you draft a clear and concise letter that compliments your Will and other documents perfectly.
Remember that you can amend your letter at any stage without having to change the Will itself.
What does a typical Statement of Wishes look like?
Here is a common way to open your letter:
"I make this letter in reference to my last Will and testament dated the [insert date]. I wish, without imposing any legal obligation on you, my executor, that you act on it accordingly."
Following this you can go on to list and describe your personal wishes around your:
- children under the age of 18 (if any)
- your home
- bank accounts
- life insurance policies
- company shares
- any debts
- furniture or other trinkets
- and more.
- address your letter to the correct person, i.e. your executor
- label it 'private and confidential'
- lnclude a statement that makes it clear that:
- your executor isn’t obligated to follow it
- it’s not to be read as a formal document.
How can your lawyer help you draft a Statement of Wishes?
For something as important as your estate, you need trusted advice tailored to your situation. That is what you'll find with your local team at Maurice Blackburn.
We can support and advise you on:
- what areas you should include detail about
- how much detail to include and exclude
- how to word your letter so that your executor/s is/are more likely to follow your wishes.
Contact your local Maurice Blackburn office for a confidential, no-obligation discussion about how we can help you.
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- Advance Care Directive
- Statement of Wishes
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