Why have a will?

Thinking about and having a will written up is something most people don’t even want to think about but, the truth is, its one of the most important things you could possibly do for those you love. If you die and you don’t have a will it creates major issues with sorting out your estate both in terms of expense and timeframes and can cause a huge amount of stress for your whānau – the last thing they need when they are grieving the loss of a loved one. Without a will your estate will be divided up as per the Administration Act and not necessarily as you would have liked it – a tightly written will, will ensure that your wishes are carried out. 

Although you can make up your own will, it is best to have them drawn up by a legal professional to ensure the wording is correct. Because peoples’ circumstances change over time it is also important that you review it every few years to make sure your wishes are still current.

Things to consider

The sorts of things you need to consider for your will are: 
  1. Who you want to administer your estate once you have died? When writing a will you should identify two executors to ensure your wishes are carried out. Essentially they are your personal legal representatives for everything relating to your estate. 
  2. Do you want to leave a sum of cash or any personal effects to particular individuals? 
  3. Do you want to leave anything to a charity? 
  4. Do you have any specific requests for your funeral?
  5. If you have dependent children, how do you want them to be cared for – who do you want to look after them? 
Another really important thing when preparing a will is to make sure you sign it and have it witnessed – and again – best to sign it in front of your lawyer to guarantee that all legal requirements are met. Here’s something to note – if you update your will but don’t sign it, it means that your previous will, will take precedence over your current unsigned will – that is if you had a previous will! If your circumstances have changed significantly from one will to the next it can make things incredibly difficult! Also to avoid any potential issues once you die, you need to advise the executors of your will or someone close to you which is the current one.

Many people think that they don’t need a will because they don’t have anything of value to leave behind – everyone has something to leave behind – not necessarily financial but often things that have a sentimental value for those close to you. By having a will you can ensure that your possessions will go to the people you most want to be remembered by. 

If you do not want to engage a lawyer to write your will there are options online. For more go to: www.publictrust.co.nz