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Why everyone should write a Will

Why everyone should write a Will (Photo: Thinkstock)
You're broke. You have no children. You hate the rellies. Trust me. Even you need to write a Will.

There are lots of reasons to have a Will. You may own much-loved pets. Do you really want them being destroyed by the SPCA because a new owner can't be found? Or you may have a few sentimental items that you want to go to someone special when you die.

Have you thought about if you want to be buried or cremated, and would you like someone to scatter your ashes in a favourite spot? You can write this into your Will.

All too many Kiwis leave a financial or emotional mess behind them when they die. The irony is that it costs nothing to write a Will. You can go to your nearest Public Trust office* and have a professional Will written for free.

Think of this:

  • Who will look after your children if you die? It's not unheard of for both parents to die in the same accident. If you think “over my dead body” about your children going to a certain relative, then write it politely in your Will. It may come true otherwise.

  • If you have children from a first marriage or partnership and you are married/partnered up again, your new spouse will inherit over your children if you're not very careful indeed. The inheritance could eventually pass to his or her children, not yours. That's because the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 takes precedence over inheritance laws. Anyone who has children but is no longer in a relationship with another parent ought to get advice from a lawyer. NOW.

  • You may be single at the moment, but if you find a partner in the future they may be entitled to your assets after three years, or even less if you have children together. What about your parents, siblings and other children? Do you want to leave them something?

  • Your pets really do deserve a thought. Find someone willing to look after them when you die and write that person into the Will.

  • If you are Maori, you might want to consider who might inherit your Maori land and/or incorporation shares, and whether you want your body buried in the whanau urupa.

Everyone should also have enduring powers of attorney (EPAs). Enduring Powers of Attorney are documents that allow someone else to act for you legally if you become mentally incapable. That doesn't always mean getting old or being afflicted by Alzheimer's. It may be due to an accident or illness such as Meningitis.

Here are some facts worth knowing:

  • Without EPAs the Family Court can appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable.

  • There are two types of EPA. One is for personal care and welfare and the other is an EPA for property, which is about how you would like your money and property managed.

  • The same person can be your attorney for both types. Sometimes, however, it's a good idea to have two different people.

  • Choose someone you trust. Remember that elder abuse is often committed by family members. How will this person behave once in charge of your money?

  • While you're still mentally capable you can revoke or alter your EPA at any time if you change your mind about who you want to be your attorney.

You can download all the relevant documents you need to create a power of attorney from the Office For Senior Citizens website.

Your say: have you got a Will? If not, why not? Please enter your comments below.

*The Public Trust isn't the only place to get a mortgage. Lawyers and other trust companies can write them. Although the Public Trust writes wills for free, it makes its money by charging an hourly rate for administering your estate when you die.

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User comments
A will is not voided by divorce. marriage does but divorce no.
Hi, this is a very interesting web page and I have enjoyed read­ing many of the arti­cles and posts con­tained on the web­site, keep up the good work and hope to read some more inter­est­ing con­tent in the future. Thank you so much.
Hi, this is a very interesting article and I have enjoyed read­ing many of the arti­cles and posts con­tained on the web­site, keep up the good work and hope to read some more inter­est­ing con­tent in the future. I got a lot of useful and significant information. Thank you so much.
Offers very little protection if you are a vulnerable old person and your son systematically cleans out your bank account. You then have to employ a lawyer to sort it out - how do you do that if you are dependent upon your son especially if his lawyer is the lawyer he has persuaded and taken you to regarding your legal affairs.
The public Trust Wills are not free, they do charge to write wills.
Blue. So if you died and left your family behind you wish them to enter into a potentially long and lengthy litigation rather than have everything in black and white when you die? Regardless of what you think might happen to your property at your death you don't know what your family or partners will do. Perhaps they will get greedy and think they are entitled to more. Will an internal, informal family agreement as to the arrangement of assets be sufficient in such a circumstance? I think not. Just as much as a will is good for the peace of mind of the testator it encourages healthy family relationships post their death.
Correct me if I am wrong, but we did a Public Trust will many years ago and at that time there was no charge, but when the person dies they take a percentage of the will for them selves. This could amount to quite a considerable sum. Using a solicitor can also be costly, they will ssometimes offer to do it for free, but will get their share at the time of death. You can buy Will Kits and write your will simply and cheaply, and it is a legal document. Unless the will is challenged then it is the cheapest way to go. They have easy step by step guide lines to follow.
Wills are ok even i am getting my head around it as our parents have left us an estate to be proud of Dont want the kids to be fighting aver assets and the like
Is a ill invalid if a couple divorce after the will was made?
Will's are a joke...your last will and testament can be challenged and the only people that make money are lawyers....the law is written by lawyers for lawyers to keep them employed and making money. When it comes to Wills the law is an utter ***!!.

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