Every adult should have a valid will, regardless of their circumstances, but we often find that people don’t realise that they need one.
Even if you don’t own significant assets such as a home or business, smaller assets such as a KiwiSaver balance can be difficult for your family to access without a will.
It is often difficult to talk about what is to happen with you and your assets when you die. It is often even harder to put those thoughts or wishes into writing. However, for your peace of mind and to ensure that your assets end up in the hands of those who you wish to benefit from your assets when you pass away, it is essential that you prepare a will during your lifetime that accurately reflects those wishes.
Many people believe their assets will automatically pass to their partner or next of kin, but the reality is that if you do not have a will, there is a serious risk that your assets may not make their way into the hands of the people that you most want to benefit. If there is no will, the law sets out how your assets are to be divided. For example:
- If you pass leaving a spouse and children surviving you, the first $155,000, your personal chattels and one-third of the balance of your estate would pass to your spouse. The remaining two-thirds of your estate would pass to your children, equally.
- If you pass leaving a spouse and no children surviving you, the first $155,000, your personal chattels and two-thirds of the balance of your estate would pass to your spouse. The remaining one-third of your estate would pass to your parents.
- If you pass leaving no spouse, partner, children or parents surviving you, your whole estate will pass to certain blood relatives.
- If you pass leaving no blood relatives surviving you, your entire estate is left to the government.
There is also a significant cost to you (or at least your estate) if you pass away without a will, as an ‘administrator’ will need to be appointed to deal with your assets, a process which is far more time consuming (and therefore costly) than if you die leaving a valid will.
All of these issues can be easily avoided by preparing a will. The cost of making a will now, compared to the potential cost to your estate if you do not prepare a will, is minimal and will ensure that your wishes and your family are protected.
Note: This article is brief and general in nature. You should not treat it as legal advice and should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this post. Armstrong Murray accepts no liability for losses suffered by any person or organisation who may rely directly or indirectly on this post.