What is a Will?

Written by Paul Carrick

A Will is a written document you create outlining your funeral preferences and nominating a person/entity (the Executor) to manage your assets, pay your debts/and distribute the remaining assets to the people or entities chosen.

Will’s provide documentation that has specific requirements, including some clauses and witnessing procedures.

An Executor is the person you assign to do the job (and usually will have agreed to be your executor before you make your Will).

A Beneficiary is the people who receive the assets from your Will.

People tend to put off making a Will, and those who have one make changes after they have gone through a life event such as marriage or divorce and do not realise the issues this could create, such as becoming married often voids an existing Will or ending a relationship may not make the Will void (which means that the person you are no longer in a relationship with, could inherit your assets).

Unlike other things you do in life, a Will is one of two documents you create which, when acted upon, you are unlikely to correct if they are wrong.

In the case of a Will, you will be deceased, and unless your Executor has a strong connection with the afterlife, you will not be able to explain your reasons for making your will the way you did or justify it.

If you get it wrong, it may be open to being challenged by people who think they should have inherited or got more. It can be expensive and emotionally draining for the people you left behind at the very time when they should be focusing on remembering you and healing (rather than cursing you).

Not having a Will means your assets are given out according to the law (and for some people, that should be reason enough to have a Will).

The reasons above are very strong reasons why we recommend using a professional such as your legal adviser. To help you draft the Will and, in some cases, help your Executor do all the things that you have assigned to them to do.

If you need to make a current will, Here is a link that says it better than I can  https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/making-a-will-and-estate-administration/

For assistance with creating or updating your Will and Enduring Powers of Attorney, contact your trusted legal adviser, or if you need a recommendation for a professional legal adviser, please let us know.

*Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney by Paul Carrick

Please note that this information is general-purpose and that I am not a legal or taxation adviser; our intention is for you to be financially sorted, which includes having current Estate Planning, while using the appropriate professional advisers.

All New Zealanders over 18 should have a Will and, preferably, Enduring Powers of Attorney.