Where there's a Will, there's a way

Will signing

March 2022

Everybody needs a Will, especially if you have a single asset worth over $15,000.00. In saying that, you probably have more assets than you realise. Your assets include all of your property such as Kiwisaver, any life insurance you may have, investments in shares including schemes such as Sharesies, land and buildings, money in the bank and your personal belongings. We want to help you make sure that these are distributed in accordance with your wishes.

Distribution of Assets

If you pass away without a Will your Estate will be administered in accordance with section 77 of the Administration Act 1969. This legislation was enacted 53 years ago, and may produce an outcome that you would not have chosen, had you made a Will.

Example A

If you were to pass away and have a partner but no children, and one or both of your parents are still alive:

  • your partner would receive all of your personal belongings (including your car) and the sum of (up to, depending on the value of your Estate) $155,000.00 and
  • anything remaining would be split as follows:
    • your partner would receive two thirds; and
    • your parent(s) would take one third.

In general, we find that in this situation clients would like their partner to take all of their Estate, and would only want their parents to inherit if their partner did not survive them.

Example B

If you pass away and are survived by your partner as well as children:

  • your partner would receive all of your personal belongings and the sum of (up to, depending on the value of your Estate) $155,000.00; and
  • anything remaining would be divided as follows:
    • your partner would receive one third; and
    • your children would share equally in the remaining two thirds.

Again, we find that most clients would not choose this outcome, and would prefer to leave all of their Estate to their partner, so that their partner has their full Estate at their disposal to care for their children. (The exception here is for blended families, which require careful consideration to ensure that children from a previous relationship are protected).

Appointment of Administrator

The person who would administer your Estate would also be decided by law.

If you have minor children, your children’s guardian is among the class of persons entitled to apply to administer your Estate – this could end up being your ex-partner if you have separated from your child’s other parent.

Making a Will

No two Estates are alike, and on that basis we strongly suggest having a Will prepared for you by a lawyer. While there may be a charge to have a Will prepared, the legal aspects of administering an Estate is significantly cheaper where the deceased has made a Will.

We only need basic information from you to start the process of drafting your Will. This includes:

  • who you want to appoint as your executor(s). This is the person(s) who will assist your solicitor to call in your assets and distribute them in accordance with the wishes set out in your Will;
  • any specific gifts you wish to make eg. jewellery, paintings, family heirlooms, tools, etc.
  • who you would like to receive your residue (everything left over once all your debts and gifts have been made); and
  • if you have minor children, who you would like to appoint as a testamentary guardian. This person wouldn’t necessarily have the day-to-day care of your children but will have input in decisions as to where they live, their education, healthcare, religion and language.

If you wish to discuss your options please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our friendly team are happy to chat with you.

Claire Brownlie, Associate – 027 371 4376

Julia Chamberlain, Solicitor – 027 723 4232