A recent case in the office has resulted in a discussion with colleagues about Letters of Wishes.
When appointed executor of a will containing a trust, it is worth checking if there is also a Letter of Wishes left by the testator. It is not uncommon for a testator to leave such a letter, as it can be used to set out to the executors/trustees the way in which he or she would like the trust to be run.
The letter is in addition to, rather than being part of, the will. A Letter of Wishes is not legally binding. At first sight this can appear to be a disadvantage in the case of a dispute, but more often it can be advantageous because the Testator can use common language rather than technical legal terms to say what they want to happen. It is also an opportunity to set out why a beneficiary has been left out of a will, or indeed, why someone has been included.
Another advantage is that the Letter can (and indeed should) be updated from time to time, without all of the formalities required for changing a will. All that is required is that it is signed and dated by the testator.
About the author
Roger Pratt is a Partner and Head of the Private Client Department of Hopkins Solicitors LLP, and a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. If you have a legal question on Wills, Probate, Intestacy, Trusts or any related matter, please contact Roger.