Letters of Wishes to Trustees

What is a letter of wishes?

A letter of wishes is a non-binding document written by the creator of a discretionary trust to share personal thoughts and perspectives with those who will be serving over the years as trustees.

Why write one?

When the legal description of discretionary authority is limited to broad and flexible ‘ascertainable standards’ like ‘health, maintenance, welfare and support,’ a letter of wishes provides trustees a helpful understanding of the person whose intentions he or she is responsible for carrying out.

Legal and personal perspectives on letters of wishes

“You are serving as trustee of a trust established several years ago by a client. Your firm drafted the trust in accordance with the client’s wishes, it is a “discretionary” trust, meaning…”

Read the excellent article published in MA Lawyers Weekly by Boston attorneys Alexander Bove, Jr. and Melissa Langa

“There are moments in life when it all becomes clear. The jargon melts away. The strategic plans take second stage. All the meetings become moot. In terms of my personal roles in philanthropy (as trustee and professional), what motivates me and what got me where I am today, one distinctive moment with a special person comes to mind….”

Read complete essay Life Lessons: Making of a Trust-ee by Joseph Lumarda

Examples: Excerpts from contemporary documents

“In a non-binding manner, we want to provide you with some of our observations, philosophies, and wishes in an effort to assist and guide you in the general administering of our trust for our children and grandchildren, especially in the exercise of discretion in making and withholding distributions of income and principal…”

Read excerpts from a sample letter of wishes for trustees

“It has been my great pleasure and privilege to establish the JT Dynasty Trust (subsequently referred to as the Trust). I am incredibly fortunate to be in a position to take the monetary fruits of my labors to create this Trust, a vehicle that I hope will nurture healthy family continuity and success for many generations to come…”

Read excerpts from this letter of wishes for heirs and trustees