Should I Draft A Letter Of Wishes To My Estate Trustee ?

When a trust is established, through a will or other mechanism, it’s often advised for the person who made the will to provide the trustees with a ‘letter of wishes’, also known as a memorandum of wishes. This is done regarding the administration of the trust and how certain things are to be handled. A discretionary trust will contain very little specific direction to the trustee because it is meant to be done with discretion. However, a letter of wishes is a non-binding document where the creator of the trust can share personal wishes with the person or persons who may be acting as a trustee for the beneficiaries.

Letters of wishes are intended to be very personal documents and can contain any type of suggestion. For example:

– Direction to give a gift of $500 on every birthday to a beneficiary.

– Direction to purchase a car using funds from the trust on a beneficiary’s 18th birthday, often with a monetary limit specified.

– Direction to allow funds from the trust to be used as a downpayment for a beneficiary purchasing a new home. The amount of the downpayment can be tied to a percentage of the home’s total cost and can come with conditions such as qualification for a mortgage for the remaining cost of the home.

Beyond these examples, it can also contain guidelines or restrictions regarding outside influences, like drugs or religious influence, that the person who made the will may want a trustee to be cognizant of prior to or when funds in the trust are released.

A letter of wishes is not something that your lawyer needs to draft. It is intended to come from you and go directly to the trustee. However, your lawyer can provide suggestions and a template to work from. This can ensure that wishes made are as clear as possible.

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