Recently, it’s been highlighted to me how important it is to have a Will and to make sure it is up to date. A Will deals with your property upon your death. Property includes real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, life insurance policies, shares, your Kiwisaver/superannuation account and your ‘stuff’ in general.
If you pass away without a Will, the law provides a way for your estate to be divided. The rules change depending on your circumstances and account for various situations, such as where you leave a surviving partner but no children or parents, or if you leave a partner and a child/children but no parents and so on.
If your estate is comprised of more than $15,000.00, an application to the High Court is required to appoint someone as administrator of your estate. Your administrators then divide your estate in accordance with those rules.
It is far simpler for your surviving family members to have clear guidance from you about how you want to divide your property.
What your Will should include
- One or more people to act as the Executor and Trustee of your estate;
- A Testamentary Guardian (for children aged under 16 years);
- You can include specific instructions as to your funeral including burial or cremation;
- Any specific gifts that you would like to make (such as a specialty vehicle or jewellery);
- How you want the remainder of your estate to be divided.
If you have a Will, excellent! But it is important to review it.
You should review your Will at the following times
- Marriage – getting married revokes all previous Wills;
- Separation – separation and divorce do not revoke your Will;
- Having a child/children - consider appointing a testamentary guardian;
- If your assets change significantly – it is important to have a Will which accurately reflects your assets and your plan for them. Your plan will likely change as your assets increase or decrease;
- As you get older / at a time of change to your own health or your trustee’s health – particularly if your executors or trustees are the same age or older than you or have their own health issues; and
- At any point where you are not comfortable with your current Will for any reason.
Ultimately having a Will can save significant costs for your estate.