The person who created the trust left a letter of wishes. Do I need to follow it?

Technically, a letter of wishes or a letter of last instructions is non-binding. It is meant, as the name suggests, to tell a trustee or administrator of an estate what the decedent wishes to be done.

The letter could include things that are not made part of the will. For example, some letters of wishes describe a decedent’s feelings about:

  • His children’s upbringing. This may include suggestions about a child’s religious education, activities, or education.
  • The future of a child with special needs. This may include a preference that the child be kept at home or in a facility.
  • His own funeral. Directions about what kind of funeral the decedent wanted may be included.
  • Who should be notified about his death. There may be specific people that the decedent wanted informed before an obituary was printed, for example.

It could also include other things of importance to the decedent that are not part of his will or other estate planning documents.

What You Do Now Is up to You

As the administrator of the estate or trustee of a trust you are going to have to decide whether you wish to follow the instructions or recommendations left for you in the letter of wishes. If there is any part of the letter of wishes that conflicts with the will or trust then the legally binding will or trust should be followed. However, if the letter of wishes does not conflict with the will or trust and is in the best interest of the beneficiaries then you may want to honor the decedent’s wishes. If you have questions about your obligations then it is important to get answers before taking any action. Please start a live chat with us today for more information.

 

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm