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What is a Letter of Wishes?

Image by Scott Graham

 

Whilst a Will is essential for setting out – formally – certain things that need to take place after your death, a Letter of Wishes is a document that can add ‘colour’ to this in a more personal way. In basic terms, a Letter of Wishes can be used to communicate things less formally – difficult decisions you’ve made, for example – to your loved ones, and set out your intentions for bequests that are less valuable than those typically contained in a Will (a prized – but not expensive – trinket, for example).

LOCKET ticks all the boxes of a traditional Letter of Wishes, and so much more. Via our custom-designed, secure app, with LOCKET you can:

  • Collate and curate records of your precious possessions

  • Document items photographically so there’s no confusion

  • Appoint Guardians to carry out your wishes

  • Allocate valuables to specific Beneficiaries

  • Leave behind notes and explanations for your Beneficiaries (to ensure they understand what has been left to them - and why)

  • Build/change things as you go, increasing flexibility and reducing the need for a huge time commitment.

Letter of Wishes

You’ve got questions - we’ve got answers

Who can make a Letter of Wishes?

Anyone can make a letter of wishes. Normally they accompany a will, but there is nothing stopping you from making one at your own convenience. Pension pots often normally have an expression of wishes as to how the pension gets shared out. The scheme administrator has the final say. Letter of wishes works in a similar fashion.

What is a Letter of Wishes?

A letter of wishes is a hand written, typed or word processed document written by, and signed by, a benefactor. The benefactor is the person giving their world goods away to beneficiaries - or recipients - persons who receive these goods. In the case of LOCKET it is a series of 'asset' documented in a digital vault managed by the benefactor.

When is a Letter of Wishes used?

A letter of wishes is used after someone has died. It is used to support and explain a will if there is one. In the absence of a will it can be very useful to help guide the decisions being made about someones estate. Their estate is essentially what they leave behind after they die. The law of the land has precedence over this estate, but the letter of wishes can be useful in the absence of any other guidance, 

Where to store a Letter of Wishes?

Letters of wishes are traditionally stored with the will. You may store your will at home, or with your specialist will writer or with your lawyer. If you want to easily make changes to it over your lifetime, storing it at home is the best option, but you risk it being overlooked. Having it stored with a 3rd party doesn't guarantee it won't get overlooked, but you lose the flexibility of being able to change it easily. LOCKET solves all these pitfalls by being easy to access, update and find, whilst being secured in the cloud.

Why make a Letter of Wishes?

There are a number of good reason why you might consider making a letter of wishes. Some are practical and others sentimental.

Having a will drawn up can be a timely and costly experience, depending on your circumstances. Advice is invaluable but doesn't come cheap. With a letter of wishes on the other hand can be drawn up and maintained by yourself.

You might want to bequeath (give away) specific items to specific family members, and explain your reasons for doing so. Paying for lawyers time to capture those specifics, which might change over time, could cost you more than the value of the item.

How to make a Letter of Wishes?

Your letter of wishes can be written down on a simple piece of paper. Make it as clear as possible. Make sure it doesn't contradict anything in your will, just to avoid confusion. Sign and date it and make sure someone knows about it and it's location. If you have a will you will have one or more executors. These are the best people to inform of its existence.

 

If you use a word processor, print your document out and do the same as above, otherwise you run the risk of it being inaccessible after you pass.

You can make a letter of wishes for general consumption, as well as private letter of wishes. Unlike a will, a letter of wishes can be private, only for the eyes of the intended. 

If you want an easy time of it, use LOCKET !

Who to tell about your Letter of Wishes?

If you have a will then just let your existing executors know about your letter of wishes. You can tell anyone about it, that's entirely up to you, but make sure you tell someone. The existing legal system (2022) in the UK, is a wash with lawyers trying to hunt down missing wills for the deceased.

 

LOCKET has a feature that enables you to inform beneficiaries of their inclusion into your letter of wishes. 

What should a Letter of Wishes contain?

A letter of can contain pretty much anything.

Here are some suggestions

  • A list of people you want to be notified, or not notified, of your death, and importantly up to date contact details! 

  • A list of people you want to be invited to, or blocked from, your funeral. 

  • Details of the type of funeral you want - burial or cremation or something else

  • Details of funeral music, type or style of coffin, dress code, wake detail etc. 

  • Where you want to be buried or have your ashes scattered.

Importantly it should cover sentimental aspects

  • things you wanted to say to family and friends

  • how you want your assets distributed, outside the will, and any specific items you want individuals to received and maybe a brief reasoning as to why, to aid with understanding

You can also include aspects regarding your children, advising their guardians (identified in a will)  how you want them brought up.

You can cover off reasons why individuals have been excluded from the will.

On a practical note you might want to put usernames and passwords for the various digital services you use, be it the wifi router or the shared email account that you set up?

When to make a Letter of Wishes?

Make a letter of wishes as soon as possible. You don't need a will to write one. It might even help focus your thoughts on what you want your will to contain.

If you have a will, consider the letter of wishes as a necessary secondary line of defence against confusion. You can add nuance to your decisions in the will.

 

If you have a partner, imagine that person not waking up in the morning. Imagine how hard things would be for yourself. Then put yourself in their shoes. If you didn't wake up one morning. How hard would it be for them. Imagine too how a letter of wishes might help them deal a little bit easier with the aftermath. 

Why is a Letter of Wishes important?

A letter of wishes is important because it gives you the ability to finely craft how you leave your family and friends. You no doubt want to leave them with as much clarity and direction as possible, to avoid them falling out over petty squabbles. You want to leave them with happy memories of you. You want to leave them with a little bit of you to remember you by.

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