Letter of wishes
A letter of wishes is a way for you to inform others of matters to be considered after your death. It may, for example, contain guidance to the guardians of minor children detailing how you might want your children brought up in terms of education, religion or residence.
A letter of wishes is a separate document to your will, but it accompanies your will. It is not legally binding but can guide your executors and trustees to ensure that your personal wishes are carried out.
You should take care that a letter of wishes does not contain anything that could conflict with your will.
A letter of wishes can advise on anything, but the most common uses are listed below.
Who to notify of your death, or in some cases, who not to tell.
Whether you would prefer cremation or burial.
Listing your main assets – including bank accounts, life insurance policies, expensive items or jewellery and their location – will help your executors in the administration of your estate. These items should also be included in your will because the letter of wishes is not legally binding.
Guiding your executors or trustees in terms of how you would like any money managed or trusts to be run. Be careful not to be prescriptive to the extent that the discretion of the trustees is questioned. Affecting the discretionary powers of the trustees is not advisable, as it may invalidate the trust.
Advising guardians on how you would like your children to be raised, their religious upbringing, education, and where they should live. These details should be reviewed as the children grow up.
Giving more detailed information to assist your executor/s in identifying specific items that you are bequeathing in terms of your will.