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When the time comes to write a will, it can be a very stressful process. If you have a large family, own a business, or your assets are particularly complicated, the process of dividing these up between your family can be difficult. Many people put off writing a will for as long as possible, either because they think it isn’t necessary for them, or because they find it too difficult to think about. While any legal professional will advise you to ensure you have an up-to- date will in place, it also makes sense to enhance this document with a letter of wishes.

What is a letter of wishes?

Sometimes known as a memorandum of wishes or statement of wishes, it is a document which sits alongside your will as a way to express your intentions. While your will is a legally binding document, the letter of wishes isn’t, but it can be used to ensure that your will isn’t contested. If you have a contentious clause in your will that might not sit well with family members or lead to doubt, the letter of wishes can be used to clear up your thought process and ensure everyone understands your intentions.

Who should use a letter of wishes?

It should be used by anyone who requires further detail in their will. While the will becomes part of public record upon the owner’s death, the letter of wishes does not, so in essence it is a private letter between you and the people you would like to say goodbye to. You can use the letter of wishes for anything from explaining your will to providing more detailed instructions for your funeral. If you have a caregiver in mind for your pets or livestock, the letter of wishes can be used to explain who should be responsible.

How often can I update it?

The beauty of a letter of wishes is that you can update it as often as you wish without needing to update your will. Unlike your will, where you require witnesses and solicitors to ensure everything is above board, you can update it yourself. It can grow and evolve with you at every stage of your life. It’s quite easy to simply destroy the old one and provide a new one that suits your new circumstances.

How do I write one?

The best part is that it is completely jargon-free, so anyone can write one without any specialist guidance. Unlike your will, which is likely a dense document filled with technical legal words, the letter of wishes can be written however you wish. It’s okay to be informal and write in a more personal tone. Make sure you include the date, and also state that it is your letter of wishes. As with your will, you should store this document in a safe place, but make sure that someone you trust knows where to find it in the event something happens to you.