What is a will and why do you need one?

Having a will is one of the most important things you can do for your family.

Some people think assets and special possessions will automatically go to your spouse or your next of kin if you don’t have a will in place, but this isn’t always the case.

“Wills help make sure that your wishes are carried out and the people and things that matter most to you are looked after once you’re gone,” Public Trust CEO Glenys Talivai says.

If you die without a will, the process for administering your estate – or dividing your assets and possessions – can be longer and more complex for those you leave behind and may involve the court.

Wills form a key part of planning for a more secure future and need to be put in place while you’re of sound mind and memory, otherwise they may not be valid.

Do you already have a will?

If you already have a will, that’s great news. Around half of all Kiwi have one, which is excellent.

But it’s important to make sure it’s up-to-date and reflects your current situation. We recommend reviewing your will every five years, or if you’ve had a significant change in your life. Maybe you’ve experienced a death in the family, a divorce or you have a new partner, grandbaby or fur baby.

Talk to your family

We encourage conversations with family when making or updating your will. It can be confronting to have conversations about death, money and the future but, in our experience, having them early with your loved ones benefits everyone.

And it’s not just about money and property either. New research commissioned by Public Trust shows that leaving a legacy matters to people. The research reveals an increasing interest in and value placed on ‘emotional’ legacies, which are less about money and assets and more about passing on values, taonga and heirlooms to the next generation.

It may not feel comfortable, but it’s an act of love to have these important conversations about what matters to you and the decisions you are making in your will. It’s also a good opportunity to see if your children have their wills sorted.

Remember that professional trustee services organisations like Public Trust are here to help guide your conversations with empathy and expertise if needed.

Having a will in place is one of the most important things you can do to help your family so take the first step towards making or updating yours today and visit publictrust.co.nz