Do I need a Will?

Making a will is one of those uncomfortable topics. Everyone knows they should have a will but it is typically a job for a rainy day. Having a will in place is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your wishes are carried out after you pass away. If you die without leaving a will, your will is outdated or is not legally valid, it can cause confusion and in some cases conflict and disputes between family members as to how your assets are distributed.

One of the main reasons to have a will is to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones are taken care of. Although it is assumed that everything you own passes to your spouse or partner, this is not always the case. If you do not have a will, your assets will be distributed in accordance with the laws of intestacy, which means the distribution is governed by the Administration Act 1969.

Appointing the right Executor
Choosing an executor of your will is an important decision that can have a significant impact on how your estate is managed and distributed after you pass away. In New Zealand, the executor is responsible for managing your estate, selling and calling in your assets, paying your debts and taxes, and distributing your assets according to your wishes. When making this decision you should think about whether the person you appoint is capable of handling those responsibilities.

You should also consider the relationship between your executor and your beneficiaries. You may consider choosing someone who is able to remain impartial and who can make decisions that are in the best interests of your estate. By choosing the right executor, you can ensure your wishes are carried out and that your estate is managed in a way that aligns with your wishes.

Choosing a guardian for your children is an important decision that should be made with careful consideration. Think about the people in your life who you would trust to take care of your children if you were no longer able to. It is important to choose someone who is willing and able to take on this responsibility. This is an essential point to review and update as your family grows and the needs of your children change. Making this appointment under your will can give you peace of mind knowing that your children will be taken care of by someone your trust.

Trust and Wills
There is the general misconception that where your assets are held by a trust a will is not necessary. Although it is true that most valuable assets will be owned by the trust, some will still be in your own name, for example, Kiwisaver, personal bank account, vehicles and jewellery. If there is any debt owed to you by the trust, you can gift the balance of the debt by will, otherwise the trust itself will owe that money to the beneficiaries of your estate.

Where you are the sole settlor or trustee with the power of appointment in your trust deed and there are no provisions to pass on this power of appointment, you might want to consider making the proper arrangements in your will otherwise your trust can end up having no person with ultimate control over the trust.

Gifts and Distribution of Assets
The decision of who to distribute your assets to in your will is a personal one and will depend on your individual circumstances. Your assets include items such as your home and car, bank accounts and investments, personal chattels etc. You may want to consider distributing your assets to family members, friends or charities that are important to you. If you have a blended family it is important to consider how your will affects your spouse and children from current and previous relationships.

You can also leave specific bequest to a particular person or organisation. These specific bequests are given effect to first before the remainder of the estate is distributed.

When should I update my will?
As life changes occur it is advisable to consider if your will reflects your current position and wishes. Typical changes are; purchasing or selling a property, entering a marriage or civil union, the breakdown of relationships, and having children.

How do I make a Will?
Now is the right time to get in touch with Horsley Christie about reviewing your current will or putting a new will in place. Horsley Christie has an experienced team of solicitors and legal executives who can advise you on the best approach for your specific circumstances.

Contact us if you wish to arrange an appointment.
Phone: 06 349 0090. Email:

Cassie Williams

Disclaimer: This publication should not be construed or acted on as legal advice. It is brief and general in nature. Specific advice should be sought.