While most of us know that it’s important to plan for the smooth handover of your estate when you pass, not everyone considers how valuable it would be to leave a last letter. Did you consider one while conducting your estate planning?
This letter – a ‘letter of wishes’ – is something that you attach to your Will when you conduct your estate planning. When the time comes, your executor will share this letter with your loved ones. Sharing with it, in your own words, the ways in which your estate is to be shared and managed.
Making estate planning more personal
At Marsh Fidelity, we believe a letter of wishes holds immense value and it should not be overlooked.
There are three main reasons why we believe that this letter of wishes is soo critical.
1. It Provides helpful financial advice
A letter of wishes can provide directions on how you’d like your beneficiaries to use the funds and assets you’re leaving to them.
This is particularly valuable advice for children (especially young ones), as they won’t necessarily have the knowledge or wisdom on how to proceed. Such advice can protect them from their own immaturity, as well as from possible poor advice from others. The ability to provide your children with the parental guidance only you can give them, even after you’re gone, is invaluable.
With our experience in estate planning, we can advise you on the type of advice – and the level of detail – that past clients have found the most helpful in this regard.
2. It gives important advice, thoughts and wishes
A parting gift to you:
What better last gift to give someone you love than their dying wishes. By leaving a letter of wishes you allow your family to fulfil your last wishes and give you that gift.
A parting gift from you:
We all lean close when listening to someone’s final words. We want to learn what last wishes and wisdom they have to share with us. Yet not everyone has the opportunity to share such precious thoughts near the end and if they do, they’re perhaps not able to think of everything they’d like to say.
A letter that comes from ‘beyond the grave’ is therefore a truly powerful thing. It’s one last conversation with a loved one. It’s something containing a little more of them, and so able to offer invaluable comfort. It’s a piece of that person to hold onto forever.
Perhaps you’d like to share the following in your letter of wishes:
- Emotional advice on how to cope with your passing
- Practical steps for managing the home in your absence
- Your hopes and dreams for your family and their future
- Your love for them and kind words that will comfort them
The letter could also just talk about how much you love them and that you want them to grieve but also then move forward and have joyful lives. There are things we assume our loved ones know, yet having them in writing at such a painful time can bring incredible comfort and reassurance and absolve family members of guilt. It also provides for young children who didn’t get the chance to know you as fully as everyone would wish.
A letter of wishes is something everyone can return to in moments of sadness.
Further to this, the fact that you took the time and effort to think ahead and write such a letter will mean something in itself.
This sort of letter will be an especially valuable and meaningful part of your estate planning. In this respect, we simply encourage clients to write from the heart, and share whatever they think might provide guidance and comfort to their children or spouses.
3. It offers important closure
Rituals and traditions are important at times of loss. They are the lighthouses that help us to navigate troubled waters. A funeral, for instance, is an important step in helping you to process a loss.
Receiving a will is another shining light in the grieving process. One more thing you can give your loved ones to help them through their grief journey. A Will that comes with a letter of wishes is even more helpful.
Your words about how to proceed in life without you will, for instance, help to cement the fact that you’re gone. But it reassures those left behind that you care about them and their futures even when you’re no longer there. Such a letter of love and care helps to provide important closure, and will stay with your family forever.
A letter of wishes also provides closure in these ways:
- It allows your family to give you the send-off you desire without questioning if they are making the right decision.
- It prevents disagreements among your family.
- It provides clear guidelines to help your family feel that they have made the right decisions.
Marsh Fidelity estate planning: we can help you write your letter of wishes
It might seem a daunting task to write a letter of wishes. We completely understand. There are the questions of what to focus on, how to structure it and above all that, it’s naturally a very emotional exercise.
This is why we offer to you help you to write it. This is our area of expertise. We are here to guide you sensitively through what to think about and how to write it down.
“If a professional had been involved, he or she would have immediately realised that the overall family scenario was difficult and delicate.” – Taylor v Taylor. Time and time again we see situations where a professional, impartial opinion would’ve changed the entire dynamic of a situation.
Based on your particular situation, we might suggest one or more letters of wishes. Sometimes clients like to leave personal letters to different individuals. This is a good idea if you’d like to leave very personal advice or wishes for things like future life events (weddings and childbirth, for example).
Again, this is something we can help you to think through.