Living Life: Will ensures estate will be divided as you wish

Important protection . . . Making a will or creating a family trust are two strategies that can...
Important protection . . . Making a will or creating a family trust are two strategies that can help pro­tect your assets. PHOTO: ALLIED PRESS FILES
Almost 40% of New Zealanders do not have a will in place. But what happens if you don’t have a will?     

In this case, you are said to have died ‘‘intestate’’ and your estate (everything you own and all debts you owe) will be administered under the Administration Act, 1969.     

The Act sets out a formula for how your estate is to bedivided between your family.     

Should you have no family members surviving you, then your estate goes to the Crown.     

This formula may not result in an ideal outcome for everyone and may not accurately reflect your wishes in relation to your worldly possessions.     

So if you do not have a will yet, where do you start?     

The first thing to consider is who you want to be the executor of your estate. This is the person you appoint to carry out your stated wishes.     

This leads to the second consideration: who you want to receive your estate. You may have specific items which you wish to leave to specific people. You may want to make gifts to charities as well as your family.     

Receiving advice as to those to whom you are legally obliged to provide for will reduce the risk of a challenge after you have died.     

Once you have a will in place, it is a good idea to keep a copy of it with your important documents at home. Your lawyer should hold the original.     

If you have all your important documents and information in one place and let someone know where this is, it can make the stressful time at your death a little easier for your loved ones.     

Even if you have a will, don’t forget that it is a document that needs to be reviewed from time to time as your circumstances change.     

A good rule of thumb is to review every five years or if something significant happens in the meantime.     

There are certain events which make it absolutely essential to update your will. For example, if you marry or remarry, your will is automatically revoked, unless it was made in contemplation of that marriage.     

Likewise, if your relationship comes to an end or your marriage is dissolved, or if you have wound up your family trust your will should be reviewed.

Editorial: Star Media

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