This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more about cookies on this website and how to delete cookies, see our Cookie Policy.

Tools which collect anonymous data to enable us to see how visitors use our site and how it performs. We use this to improve our products, services and user experience.


Tools that enable essential services and functionality, including identity verification, service continuity and site security.

Where Taxpayers and Advisers Meet

Letter of wishes legal status

Joined:Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:37 pm
Letter of wishes legal status

Postby Cloisters » Sun Jan 02, 2022 1:17 pm

An elderly relative has gifted different sums to their four children over the course of a lifetime (all gifts now over seven years old).

In 2015 these gifts were all recorded in a letter signed by all four children and the elderly relative, expressing that these previous gifts would be evened out to be equally fair between all beneficiaries from the remaining inheritance i.e. specifically stating that when the earlier gifts were calculated in addition to any residual inheritance, each child would benefit equally.

In 2017, the elderly relative rewrote their will to leave some monies to their grandchildren, but the residue to be split equally to their four children as previously, the letter of 2015 was NOT referenced.

There are no family issues and the amounts involved would be about 20% of the inheritance, and less than £50,000 in the most extreme case.

The question is "what is the executors legal position in this regard please"? Are they legally obliged to follow the Will and ignore the earlier letter, or can the letter be considered.

Also, Assuming no issues with the beneficiaries is there any legal concern with the distribution taking in to account the gifts?

I can't help feeling a clarifying Codicil is a sensible way forward but for various reasons prefer to avoid this so would appreciate any thoughts on the potential issue please?

Happy New Year to all.

Joined:Wed Aug 06, 2008 4:06 pm
Location:West Sussex

Re: Letter of wishes legal status

Postby pawncob » Mon Jan 03, 2022 11:16 am

I think the phrase "This is the LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT" has priority.
Execs must follow the will instruction.
If the beneficiaries wish, they can make their own adjustments later, but this may impact their own IHT positions.
With a pinch of salt take what I say, but don't exceed your RDA

Joined:Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:25 pm

Re: Letter of wishes legal status

Postby maths » Mon Jan 03, 2022 6:35 pm

The last will properly executed takes priority ie the 2017 will. The 2015 letter is irrelevant ie has no statutory force. It seems the letter is an informal document between the parties but has no legal standing; it does not form part of the 2017 will.

Return to “Inheritance Tax, IHT, Trusts & Estates, Capital Taxes”