Wills are like wishes – what you need to know

Recently at our Cole Murray team meeting we invited Aaron and Miles from Perpetual Guardian to come and speak to us about wills.

In our day-to-day jobs, the topic of wills often comes up, but still, the whole team came away from the meeting thinking about their own wills and the wills of their clients.

Did you know …

  1. More than 50% of New Zealanders don’t have a will.
  2. Anyone can make a will once you turn 18. If you get married, have a civil union, or enter a de facto relationship before turning 18, you can write one.
  3. As soon as you get married, the will you wrote previously is no longer valid (unless it states otherwise).
  4. If you don’t have a will when you die, all your assets don’t automatically go to your partner. Instead, the government will use a formula to divide up your assets.
  5. The last will you signed – even if it’s out of date and no longer reflects your situation – will be the one used if you die.
  6. Wills are not just about assets– they can also identify the person you want to look after your children.

What is a will?

A will is a document where you give instruction on what you want done with your estate after you die. These instructions may include:

  • any dependents such as your partner, children, or grandchildren you want to provide for.
  • a family trust or person that you wish to leave property, money, or other assets to.
  • any specific items such as jewellery, artwork or furniture you want to leave to particular family members, or friends.
  • any charities or organisations you may want to leave money to.
  • details of how you would like your funeral to be carried out.
  • what you want done with your KiwiSaver.

Assets make up your estate and could include:

  • any property you own (under your name only). Any joint property will automatically go to the other owner/s,
  • stocks or bonds,
  • business ownership and assets,
  • cash,
  • physical possessions such as jewellery, artwork or furniture,
  • KiwiSaver, and
  • Life insurance.

You should create a will if:

  • your assets exceed $15,000, which can happen quickly with KiwiSaver, even at a young age,
  • you enter into a relationship which will involve shared property and belongings,
  • you get married, enter into a de facto relationship or a civil union,
  • you become a parent/guardian/caregiver,
  • you become a grandparent, or
  • you buy a home.

You need to update your will if any big changes happen. For example:

  • a relationship ends,
  • you get married,
  • you have a child (it should be updated every time a child is born),
  • you buy more property,
  • you buy or sell a business, or
  • you enjoy a sizeable increase in your assets.

It’s also a good idea to set up enduring powers of attorney at the same time as making a will.

How to write a will

Our friends at Perpetual Guardian are experts in creating wills. If you are a client of Cole Murray you are able to get a discount with them. Get in touch with your Financial Adviser to find out how.

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