Death can be a confronting subject for a lot of us. This is totally understandable, but having an up-to-date Will in place can be one of the best ways to care for those you leave behind.
Simply put, a Will is a document that says what should happen to your ‘estate’ (everything you leave behind) in the event of your death.
Usually someone is named as the ‘Executor’ of a Will. This person is responsible for ensuring that your wishes are carried out, and what you leave behind ends up in the right hands. This could be a friend, family member, or professional that you appoint.
Passing away without a Will is called dying ‘intestate’.
Many people think that their assets would just go straight to their next of kin without delay, so there’s no need for a Will. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Dying without a Will leaves a drawn-out and costly mess for the people you leave behind, at any already very difficult time.
“I don’t have any assets, so I don’t need a Will.” – This is a common misconception that we hear from a lot of people. They forget about things like their KiwiSaver, cash savings, car, or valuable items like jewellery. All of which needs to be included in a Will. More importantly, if you have children, or pets, you need to make it clear who you wish to look after them. If you have Life Insurance (that you are the sole owner of), this would also form part of your estate.
If you have over $15,000 worth of assets, everything in your name, including your bank accounts, is frozen by the court.
Even if there are no disagreements between who gets what, all your assets can remain frozen for at least six months*. Your family will need to pay legal and court fees to get it all sorted out. If you have people who may rely on the money in your bank account (for example, a partner or children) having a Will is essential so there’s no hold up in them accessing the money.
If you have a complicated financial or family situation (i.e., a blended family), you may need to chat with a Lawyer to help draft your Will.
While if you have a pretty simple set of circumstances, you may be able to do it online from the comfort of your own home!
A few different companies now offer this (and it’s pretty cost effective too)
Making a will is just a necessary part of being an adult, and as you experience changes through life, e.g., having children, getting married (or divorced), you’ll need to update it so it stays current.
If you already have a Will in place (well done to you!), please encourage your family and friends to do the same by sharing this information with them.
If you don't know where to start, or would like some recommendations on a good lawyer, please get in touch.
Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.
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