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Wills & what you need to know

We aim to provide you with basic information about wills so you can have a good conversation with a lawyer or a financial adviser. So read this guide to learn why you need a will, who should have it and what is the process to create a will.

1. What is a will?

Your will is often your last message to your loved ones. It is a legal document that is unique to you and can help make sure your assets, the people and things you love are taken care of after you’re gone.

It also specifies who is responsible for carrying out your final wishes; this person is known as the executor of your will.

2. Why do I need a will?

No matter how straightforward your circumstances, having a current will makes sure everyone understands what you’d like done with your estate. Your estate is everything you own and any debts you owe when you die.

If you die without a will your loved ones may face difficulty sorting out your wishes and what happens may not be what you would want or expect.

Without a will the law determines how your assets are divided and what happens to the people who depend on you.

3. Who should have a will?

Every adult should have a will.

4. What's the process after you're gone?

After you’re gone, a process begins to settle your estate as set out in your will. Managing this process is an executor – the person or organisation you name to act on your behalf. Some of tasks include assisting with funeral arrangements, notifying beneficiaries in the will, confirming and distributing assets, paying debts and closing accounts.

5. How should I divide my estate?

What sort of things do you need to think about when considering how to divide your estate? What’s the best approach? This "Deciding how to divide" video from Public Trust explains what you need to think about.

6. When should I update my will?

It's really important to review your will regularly, especially after any significant events or changes in your life like welcoming a new baby, ending or starting a relationship and buying or selling a home or business.

7. Choosing a guardian for your child

If you’ve got children, you’ll need to consider them in your will. Not just their inheritance, but also guardianship for them if they are under 18 years of age.

A guardian represents your preferences for your children if you are no longer around. It’s important to name a guardian, as not having one can mean that the courts will have the final say.

  1. Specifying the guardian’s role

    The guardian won't necessarily be looking after your children on a day-to-day basis. They’re there to oversee your children’s welfare and interests more broadly, which could mean they will be liaising with an existing parent or guardian. You can name more than one guardian, and it’s good to choose a backup as well.

  2. What to consider

    There are a range of factors to consider when choosing a guardian. Make a shortlist of possible candidates and weigh them up next to things such as:

    • Values and beliefs
    • Parenting skills
    • Finances and work commitments
    • Age and health
    • Location
    • Existing family circumstances
  3. Keep in mind

    It’s important to make your decision on what is best for your children. You shouldn’t choose someone that you think you have to choose or someone who might think it is their duty.

    Also, it needs to be someone who will really love your children and relish the role.

  4. Be open

    Once you’ve chosen who you wish as the guardian of your children, discuss it with them in detail.Be open about the financial support that your estate can provide and your expectations  of the role. It’s also important to be open with your relatives on who you have chosen and why.

  5. Keeping it updated
    You can change the named guardian at any stage. In fact, it’s important to do so if circumstances have changed for you, your children or the named guardian themselves.
8. Can I make my will online?

Yes. Public Trust online platform allows you to make your will in the comfort of your own home. This can be handy because you can discuss things with your loved ones as you go and look up any details you need. Please note that your will still needs to be printed and signed as a hard copy document once you're done.

And remember to use the exclude HealthCarePlus code below to get a 15% Member discount 

HCPWILL15 - for wills
HCPWILLM15 – for mirror wills

If you would like to see will options, please click on this comparison table.

If you need any support, please contact Public Trust team on 0800 279 792 or support@publictrust.co.nz.