Planning Ahead: Need to make a Will even if you don't think you do?
"But I don't have any assets yet" is a common response when making a Will is suggested to twenty-somethings. There is a misconception, among young people in particular, that in order to make a Will, you should have already built up a sizeable asset base. While you may not own a home or have a large un-cracked nest egg, you will almost certainly have a number of assets to protect, including:
Making a Will not only preserves and protects what we already have, but, depending on how general the terms of your Will are, it can protect assets you accumulate in the future. It is important that you decide who these things should be given to on your death (the beneficiaries of your estate) and who should ensure that your wishes are followed (the executor(s) of your estate).
We are already planning for the future and securing safety nets for when things go awry - vehicle and travel insurance, savings, KiwiSaver retirement fund, life insurance, and even clothing purchases for occasions that might arise. Your Will deals with all of these in one document with instructions on where they should go after you have passed.
If you travel often or are heading abroad on an OE, making a Will should be part of your preparations.
Additionally, if you are the guardian of a child or children, or the caregiver of a pet, you may wish to name someone to care for them after your death. You can nominate a testamentary guardian in your Will to legally become a guardian of your child/children, taking effect on your death.
Making a Will gives you the power to control who gets what. It also makes the post-death process significantly easier, both emotionally and financially, on your family and friends if you have clearly stated your wishes in a validly executed Will which meets the formal requirements in the Wills Act. If you die intestate, without a Will, family members or, if there are none, friends, will have to apply to the High Court for an order to administer your estate and ask for it to be divided in a certain way among certain beneficiaries. Section 77 of the Administration Act sets out an order of priority for who is entitled to claim a share of your estate. For instance, if you have a surviving spouse or partner, they will receive everything, unless you have children, in which case they will inherit a share.
Recording your testamentary wishes in a Will may also help to minimise potential clashes between family members as to their entitlements.
Keep in mind that making a Will is not set in stone. We recommend that you update your Will as your circumstances change - if you enter a new relationship or separate, marry (in which case you are required to make a new Will as your existing one will be invalidated) or divorce, have children, acquire property, or if your relationships, and as such your desired beneficiaries, change.
A Will must comply with legal requirements in the Wills Act in order to be valid. It is therefore necessary that you seek legal advice to have a solicitor prepare this document for you. To do so, or if you have any questions or concerns about this topic, please contact:
See our Expertise pages
© McVeagh Fleming 2018
This article is published for general information purposes only. Legal content in this article is necessarily of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require specific legal advice in respect of any legal issue, you should always engage a lawyer to provide that advice.