Wills – Is it time for an update?

Many years ago in a dusty solicitor’s office, as part of purchasing your first home, you signed a Will.  Then you met Mr/Ms Right, settled down into domestic bliss and produced three children.  But what about your Will?

Isn’t it time for an update?

Some reasons to update your Will are:

  • A new relationship;
  • Getting married or entering into a civil union;
  • Separation;
  • You have children;
  • A beneficiary dies;
  • You win Lotto (I am serious here);
  • Your Will was lost during the earthquakes;
  • And many other reasons too numerous to mention.

Before we go any further, let’s just refresh ourselves on some definitions:

  • Willmaker – this is you;
  • Executors/Trustees – the people you choose to look after your assets;
  • Guardians – the people you choose to look after your children;
  • Legatees – recipients of specific gifts, eg, jewellery, car, money;
  • Beneficiaries – recipients of everything else in your estate.

Your Will needs to reflect your current circumstances.  If you die without making provision for your current spouse or children, they may have a claim against your estate.  Court action is expensive and time consuming, not to mention the unnecessary pressure it could put on your family.  I will point out that anything you own jointly (not as tenants-in-common) with your spouse will pass to the survivor by survivorship despite what your Will says, eg family home, bank accounts.

Have you considered guardianship of your children should you and your spouse die together?  I am sure you would rather choose who will look after your children rather than leaving it to chance.

You can also make provision for your digital footprint and I will cover this further in a later blog.

What happens if I do not have a Will?

Without a Will your estate is “intestate”.  New Zealand Law states where your assets will go, eg your next of kin, and that may not be what you want.  A trustee/executor may need to be appointed by the Court.  As I have mentioned above, Court action is expensive and time consuming.

Wills do not cost a fortune to do.  They should be drafted correctly by your solicitor.  There are special rules for signing and witnessing.  Saving a few bucks doing a Will online, or writing it yourself, is not worth the hassle if it is wrong.

Where to from here?

Before you head off to the wilds of Africa, scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, or sample fried scorpions in Thailand, please contact us at KW Legal to update your Will then you are free to enjoy.

Note:  Katherine’s Blog is not a substitute for legal advice, please contact your lawyer.

Wills – Is it time for an update?

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