Charlotte Lockhart - Have A Will? When You Should Update It

Publish Date
Friday, 4 November 2016, 4:00PM

Why make a Will?

A Will allows you to:

  • Provide fairly and adequately for your family and any other beneficiaries you choose.
  • Appoint a guardian for your children.
  • Put in place arrangements for the sale and distribution of your assets.
  • Arrange for assets to be held in trust to meet the ongoing needs of those you wish to benefit.
  • Provide for payment of outstanding liabilities.
  • Appoint an executor and trustee to carry out the instructions in your Will and administer your estate.

When should I update my Will?

When you have a Will, it is important to review it every three to five years, and update it whenever there are major changes in your life. Examples include:

  • Marriage or remarriage. This usually revokes a Will, so anyone getting married (or separated or divorced) should make a new Will.
  • Having a baby – with every new child, update your Will to ensure they are included as a beneficiary and protected by a guardianship order.
  • Other special circumstances, such as adopted children or children with a disability, may mean making particular provisions in your Will.

In New Zealand there are three key pieces of legislation which may impose certain obligations on you when you make your Will:

  • The Property (Relationships) Act 1976: When one spouse/partner dies, it is assumed that all assets are relationship property and the value of your combined assets should be shared equally unless there is evidence to prove otherwise. You should seek independent legal advice when considering any relationship property matters.
  • The Family Protection Act 1955: This gives certain family members the right to claim against your estate if they do not feel they have been adequately provided for under your Will. When giving instructions for your Will, ask yourself whether you have excluded any possible claimants or left them an entitlement that is less than they might have expected (eg unequal distributions between children).
  • Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949: A person may claim against your estate if you breached a promise to leave them something in your Will in return for work or services that they provided you with. When giving instructions for your Will, ask yourself whether you have made such a promise, or whether there is anyone presently providing you with services (paid or unpaid), who would have the expectation of being included in your Will.

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