A Letter of Wishes: No Legal Power But Powerful Nonetheless

A letter of wishes lets you explain, in plain language, your intent behind your estate documents, potentially heading off any misunderstandings or disputes.

A man, only his hands a shirt showing, writes a letter.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Over the years, I’ve seen many estate plans that have been well crafted and tax-optimized fail when it comes to the one thing that matters most: leaving heirs better off for their inheritance.

Contributing to this is poor or little guidance for the trustees and little thought given to the damage that sudden wealth can cause. You need not look further than the statistics of lottery winners to see the failures caused by unexpected and rapid access to money.

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Steve Lockshin
Founder, Vanilla

Steve Lockshin is an entrepreneur and financial adviser. He is a Principal of AdvicePeriod and a co-founder of estate planning software firm Vanilla. Prior to co-founding AdvicePeriod, Steve was Chairman of Convergent Wealth Advisors, a company he founded in 1994. Steve helped pioneer the independent advisory industry, building one of the largest independent RIAs in the nation. Lydian Wealth Management was acquired by City National Bank (NYSE:CYN) in 2007.