What is a Will?
A Will is one of the most important documents that you’ll ever create and sign. It's a legal document that sets out how you want your assets (known as your “Estate”) to be dealt with when you die.
A Will specifies what, when and how you want your dependants (spouse, civil union partner, de facto partner, children, etc) to be looked after, and can also state what kind of funeral arrangements you want.
If you don’t have a Will, what happens to your property?
If you die “intestate” (i.e. without a Will), then the Administration Act specifies how your Estate will be distributed after your death. This may not necessarily be as you wished, which is why a Will is so important.
Can your Will include what will happen to your children?
If you make a Will you can name the people you'd like to act as guardians for your children. A guardian assumes all the duties, powers, rights and responsibilities that a parent has in relation to the upbringing of the child. Guardians don't necessarily have day-to-day care of your children, but they do decide who will take care of that and ensure that they're properly looked after, as well as making all other major decisions for your children.
How do I make a will?
There are several different options for making a Will:
- Buy a do-it-yourself “NZ Will Kit” from selected bookstores and fill in the blanks on the template forms. You don’t have to have a lawyer to do this but there are risks e.g. omission or ambiguity.
- Buy a do-it-yourself Will online from www.Do-it-yourself-Wills.co.nz. They'll email the selected Will to you, for you to complete at home.
- The Public Trust may also be able assist you in preparing the Will. Visit their website www.publictrust.co.nz/personal_services/wills for more information.
- A Lawyer or a Statutory Trustee company can also assist you in preparing a Will.
To find about more about making a Will, you can download the NZ Law Society's PDF guide.
What do I need to make a Will?
If you arrange a meeting with a Lawyer, the Public Trust, or Statutory Trustee company for advice and preparation of a Will, it's helpful to take with you:
- A detailed list of all your property (including land, houses, furniture, jewellery, bank accounts, shares, and life assurance policies).
- A detailed list of people and charities you wish to leave property to.
- Any trust deed or relationship property agreement you have made.
- Name(s) of the “Executor(s) ”
- Decisions regarding payment of liabilities (mortgages, debts, overdrafts).
- Name(s) of the preferred guardian(s) of your children under 18 years.