Is My Will a Private Document?
When dealing with the administration of your your estate after your death. Your executors will have a number of tasks to undertake in order to administer your estate, before they can carry out the instructions contained in your Will.
Amongst these is the process which involves applying for a Grant of Probate to The Probate Registry if you left a Will.
Once this has been granted your Will becomes a public document and can be viewed by any member of the public for a small fee.
The only exception is if your estate is very small, and no property is involved. Then Probate may not be necessary and since no application is made to The Probate Registry. In these circumstances your Will remains private.
Is a Letter of Wishes private?
A letter of wishes is a document that accompanies your Will. Unlike your Will it is not legally binding. It can be used to guide the executors in relation to how you would like them to exercise their powers. It remains a private document and so normally contains more detail about private matters. Common examples of what is included in a Letter of Wishes include:
- Explanations about why certain family members are excluded from the will.
- Detailed funeral wishes.
- Your wishes on how you would like your children to be raised. Possibly details about education, religious beliefs, travel etc.
- Detailed instructions about how you may want personal possessions such as watches, jewellery and photos distributed.
- Who should be told about your death.
What about the Royal Family?
In contrast following the recent death this year of Prince Philip it has been stated that his Will is to remain private and sealed for the next 90 years from the date of Probate to protect the Queen`s “Dignity”.
Therefore, in relation to the Royal family it is standard convention that upon their death their Will is sealed and is kept private.
For advice on Wills, Letters of Wishes, Estate administration and tax planning please contact us.