estate-planning letter of wishesHave you considered leaving a letter of wishes with your last Will and Testament?

A clearly stated letter of wishes could be invaluable to the executor of your estate, particularly for those items that may not have been considered of sufficient financial value to warrant specific mention in your Will. A letter of wishes is not a substitute for a Will, need not have any formal structure, may be varied as often as circumstances warrant, but will help to facilitate personal effects that you have noted were of particular interest to a friend, relative or other person, being dealt with according to your stated wish.

A letter of wishes may avoid ‘waste’

Have you ever had to adjudicate over the disposition of the personal effects of a recently-deceased relative or friend? Do these items go to a charity (through one of their bins perhaps)? Do they go to a family member who has asked for the item(s)? The decision-making process is often an emotional roller-coaster, particularly if the deceased was somebody who was particularly influential in your life!

Does the dinner set go to the grand-daughter?

Does the engagement ring go to the eldest daughter?

Do the scrapbooks go to the local historical society?

Is that sporting memorabilia of anything other than intrinsic value to anybody – even at the local Sports Club?

To make it easier on your family – and particularly the Executor of your Estate – the use of a simple, regularly updated ‘letter of wishes’ accompanying your important final Estate Planning documents (Will etc) can be prepared answering all of the above questions and more.

Letter of wishes is non-binding on Executor

A letter of wishes is not a binding document on either the Executor, any member of the family or any other nominated beneficiary to your Estate; nor is it a significant wealth management tool: it is however, a very welcome and helpful guide for those left behind, as to how you would wish that those personal effects be distributed.

Estate planning help; and estate administration services

Whilst there is no formal structure for a letter of wishes, our experienced financial planners are able to provide a guide as to how you might express your wishes – and confirm how they should be updated, stored; and referenced – as part of the Estate Planning service we offer.

To ensure that your estate planning is current, valid and meeting your intentions, arrange a meeting with one of our specialist planners by phoning (07) 34213456; or complete the information in our website Contact Us form – in either case you will receive prompt and courteous attention.

…and if you have been appointed as Executor of a deceased estate but need help with the administrative processes involved, our associated company (Exec Assist Pty Ltd) provides estate administration services for executors at competitive cost; and without affecting the custodial role of the executor over the assets of the estate. (ExecAssist can be contacted using the above phone and/ or Contact Us form.)

(Originally published in August 2013; occasionally refreshed, most recently in December 2020.)