How a Letter of Wishes works in modern estate planning

2017-03-22
Modern estate planning looks after you and your family today, tomorrow and later Modern estate planning looks after you and your family today, tomorrow and later
Estate Planning Quick Tips

What can be written in a Letter of Wishes?

Our Modern Estate Planning services is called Finally SortedA Letter of Wishes is part of your family backup plan documents and its purpose is to provide general guidance to the Executor or Trustee of a person’s estate following their death.

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This simple non-binding letter is written in plain English and designed to help your Executor manage your affairs better. It can more fully explain your wishes for how various actions are to take place in your estate and provide general information that may not be appropriate to put in the Will that later becomes a public document.

It can more fully explain your wishes for how various actions are to take place in your estate and provide general information that may not be appropriate to put in the Will that later becomes a public document.

Tip: Unlike a Will, a Letter of Wishes is designed to remain private and you can easily update it at any time without the need to amend the formal legal documents (such as a Will or Trust documents).

From a simple list of social media passwords to explaining different food allergies, your young children might have, to more complex matters like how a small business was structured; a letter of wishes can help the reader better understand the background thinking on a range of issues.

A Letter of Wishes is usually a private document and not made public like your Will is.

While the letter is not legally binding, it can have a strong moral sway with the courts.  A letter of wishes is a very personal document and can deal with a wide range of issues including:

  • the names of advisers or family friends who assistance should be obtained in relation to financial planning, accounting services, legal advice, insurance brokerage, stockbroking, religious guidance or other matters
  • personal assets, particularly those with sentimental value such as jewellery, collector's items, family heirlooms, particular charities or social causes the Willmakermaker would like the beneficiaries to consider
  • the location of important documents such as deeds, title records and financial information
  • wishes in relation to assets which the Willmakermaker may have effectively controlled during their lifetime, but doesn't form part of their estate (non-estate assets); for example, assets held in family trusts, Superannuation funds or offshore entities
  • provide reasoning to the Executor about why a certain beneficiary is not named in a Will
  • any wishes or directions as to how infant children should be cared for
  • directions in relation to funeral arrangements and burial, and
  • any other matters the Willmakermaker would like their executors or trustees to take into account.

Getting your modern estate planning sorted brings peace of mind to everyone involved.

It means that you can tell your family and friends, 'if something goes wrong, there's a written backup plan in place, it's funded and here are the name and contact details of the person who can help with the process.

Watch our Introduction to Estate Planning video and then contact us here if you'd like to talk about your family backup plan.
Drew Browne

Drew specialises in helping people protect and provide for what matters most in their lives. He's an award-winning writer, speaker, financial adviser and business strategy mentor. His company Sapience Financial and Investment Services is committed to using business solutions for good in the community, and in 2015 certified as a B Corp. In 2017 Drew was recognised in the inaugural Australian Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow national awards. Drew writes for successful Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs at Smallville, his blogs can be read on Amazon.com and you can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Drew Browne

Sapience Founder & Director.
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