Do you have a Will?

While most of us don’t think about it, we will all pass away.  And most of us don’t know when.  So it is important to have our affairs in order just in case the unthinkable happens.

Many young people in particular will argue that they have so few assets they don’t need a Will.  As soon as your estate consists of at least $15,000 in assets and/or cash a Will is needed to ensure that the assets are distributed to those you want to benefit.  With KiwiSaver almost 8 years old, many people now have a fund that has a reasonable value.  Without a Will you die “intestate”.  This means that a family member will have to apply to the Court for an Order appointing someone to administer the estate.  Legislation will determine who inherits and what percentage of your estate they will receive.  This may mean that family members, or even friends or charities may not receive what you had intended them to receive.

The only way to avoid this is to have a current Will.  There are specific requirements around the drafting of a Will and if it is not correctly executed, while you may think you have a Will, it may not be accepted as a legally valid Will and you could still die intestate.  It is therefore important to ensure that your Will is correctly drafted and executed.

While a Will will ensure your affairs are properly handled after you pass away, during your lifetime it is wise to have Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs).  Enduring Powers of Attorney cover Personal Care and Welfare, as well as Property.  In the event that you become unwell to the extent that you are not able to make decisions for yourself your attorney can take over and step into your shoes.  EPAs for Property can be activated immediately upon signing of the document.  Property EPAs are particularly helpful if someone travels overseas but has property in New Zealand.  Their attorney can then deal with any property matters in New Zealand on their behalf.

A little attention to these matters while you are still well is a saving in time and money and ensures you do not have to worry if the unthinkable happens.

By Nicolette Bodewes