When drafting estate planning documents the dispositional portion, where we actually say what we want, tends to be impersonal and broadly worded. Providing a trustee with latitude is often a wise decision, as circumstances can change and trustees need leeway to respond to different events.
A “letter of wishes” provides an opportunity to supplement the trust verbiage and give the trustee an insight into the priorities of the grantor. The letters are non-binding, but can be helpful in providing the trustee with justification to fund things like a group vacation, or a family’s second home; items not normally provided for in typical estate plans.
The letters are typically not disclosed to beneficiaries, although may be, as directed by the grantor.
In a trust that may last for several generations, a letter of instruction can be helpful to trustees who never knew the grantor and may not appreciate or understand their priorities without such guidance. It is also that last chance to provide guidance for your children or other beneficiaries.