Less than 50% of adult New Zealanders have a valid will. Based on those statistics it is a fair bet that even if you have this aspect of estate planning sorted, you will have friends or family who are not so well organised.
“What, you say, does that have to do with KiwiSaver?” With the average KiwiSaver balance now just under $15,000, it actually has quite an impact. A will provides the legal means to distribute a person’s assets according to their wishes after they die. If you don’t have a valid will, and own personal assets worth more than $15,000, your assets will be distributed according to intestacy rules as contained in the Administration Act. As these rules are specific your assets may not be distributed in accordance with your wishes. The costs associated with the process could also erode hard earned savings, meaning family get less.
Savings in a KiwiSaver scheme are personal property and don’t automatically pass to a spouse or partner, so this is why having a valid will is so important.
A will is an important document and the law says it must be made in a prescribed manner. Do-it-yourself kits do not always cover all the aspects you need to consider, so you should get legal advice about how to make your will. While this may involve some cost, having an expert prepare your will could save your relatives the grief and expense of an invalid will or none at all.
For those with dependent children a will can also provide the means to appoint a guardian to take over some responsibilities for their children’s care and upbringing. This is especially important should both parents die together or if you are your children’s sole guardian. Without a direction in a will, a guardian will be appointed by a court process and could result in your children having a guardian that you wouldn’t have appointed yourself.
If reading this has alarm bells ringing for you, contact your legal adviser to discuss the best steps for your situation.
This information is general. A Disclosure Statement is available on request.