Three things you may not know about Wills
- Make sure you add renewing your will to your wedding 'to-do' list - did you know, when you get married, your previous will is no longer valid? This is something that people generally do not think about when planning a wedding. Unfortunately, once you are married, your assets do not automatically go to your partner which in many cases, is the bereaved's wish.
- Wills can decide who will look after your children - Wills are not just about what you leave to people, they can also be used to identify the person you want to look after your children. If this is not expressly stated in your will, you could essentially be rolling the dice on one of the most important decisions in the event of your death.
- If you die without a will, there is no way to know who receives your assets - If you die without a will, the government will use a formula to divide up your assets. This can result in a reasonable division of your assets at best, and long-drawn, expensive legal battles by your friends and family at worst.
Us New Zealanders are a positive bunch which, while usually a good trait to have, does mean that we have a tendency to put off the boring legal stuff as we all think 'it won't happen to me'. Some of the facts mentioned above highlight the importance of having that difficult conversation with yourself and ensuring you are well prepared should the worst-case scenario come to fruition.
How KiwiSaver can affect a will
Many people are under the misconception that if they don't own much, then they don't need a will. It is our professional opinion that this is a bad idea.
- If you pass away while you are a member of a KiwiSaver scheme, upon application to that scheme, your full account balance will be paid to your estate.
- If your KiwiSaver fund is greater than $15,000 then NZ law dictates that Probate is applied for. In simple terms, probate is a document issued by the High Court that allows the will’s executors to action the will.
However, if there is no will, someone needs to apply to the Court to be the administrator of the estate. This costs money (more money than setting up a will in the first place) but the process of winding up the estate can take a lot longer than if a will is in place. As a guideline, and depending on the complexity of the estate, it can take anywhere from 6 – 24 months to administer the estate.
When is the best time to sort a will?
Now - because we don't know what tomorrow will bring!
If you don't have a lawyer or know someone in the legal profession who can draft your will, give us a shout and we can point you in the right direction.