Frequently Asked Questions
Before you begin, there are certain things you need to consider:
- Appointing an Executor – Who would you like to be the executor of your Will? This is a very important role as they are the person or company that deals with distributing your estate.
- Appointing a Guardian– If the unthinkable were to happen, who would you like to be the guardian of any of your children under the age of 18? Consideration needs to be given to the impact the appointment may have on that person or people (including things like where they may live while acting as guardian).
- Gifting– If there are specific gifts you want to gift to any people or charities such as jewellery, cash, etc.
- Sharing your Estate – Once your specific gifts have been made, who would you like the remainder of your estate to go to? Also consider if they are not around who would it go to?
As long as you have the final Will signed and witnessed as required, then the Will you made on eWills is correctly created and valid.
To make a Will valid it must be signed by you, in front of two (2) witnesses. These witnesses cannot have anything left to them in the Will, but they can be appointed as executor or guardian.
Here’s a simple check list to make sure your Will is valid:
- Have you read your Will?
- Have you initialled where requiredon the Will?
- Do you have two witnesses to witness your signature on the Will?
- Have you signed the Will in front of these two witnesses?
- Have both witnesses signed the Will in front of you?
A Will isn’t just about setting things up for children following your death – it’s about ensuring your legacy goes to the people/organisations you want it to go to. It might be as simple as leaving a few hundred dollars to your favourite charity and the rest to your parents; or dividing your things between your best mates. Whatever your choices, a Will ensures that they have a voice when you no longer do.
People often overlook assets that they would have liked to go to someone special, after their death. What about your treasured guitar, personal jewellery or KiwiSaver money? Once you have worked out what you have, a Will ensures those things go where you want them to. It might be as simple as leaving a few hundred dollars to your favourite charity and the rest to your parents, or dividing your things between your best mates.
We believe that all New Zealanders over the age of 18 should have a Will to ensure that their wishes are followed when the worst happens. By having a Will you can ensure your personal things go to the people who you intended. If you don’t have a Will, the Laws of Intestacy apply. Under this law your estate is divided up in a set way, for example:
- If there is a spouse, civil union partner, or de facto partner, but no children, then everything goes to the spouse/partner;
- If there is a spouse, civil union partner, or de facto partner, and children, the spouse or partner takes all the personal chattels, a prescribed amount (currently $155,000) and one third of the rest, and the children take the other two thirds;
- If there is no spouse, civil union partner, or de facto partner, the deceased's children take everything in equal shares;
- If there is no spouse, civil union partner, or de facto partner, or any children, but one or both parents are alive then everything goes to them;
- If there are no spouses, civil union partners, or de facto partners, children or parents, the deceased's brothers and sisters take everything in equal shares.
And if you have no close family, your estate may simply end up going to the government!
An online Will (eWill) lets you take care of the future all from the comfort and privacy of your own home. You can complete the online form in less than 15 minutes. Our team of legal experts then use your responses to craft a customised, effective Will which perfectly fits your lifestyle and situation.
Sometimes personal circumstances can be a little tricky. By looking at the options below, you can determine whether it is best to do your Will online or speak to one of our experts.
|Complete your will online||Speak to us in person|
|Legally reviewed by estate planning experts|
|Tailored to your needs|
|Convenient online storage|
|Specific gifts (bequests)|
|Blended families (e.g. remarriage, step-children)|
|Business-owner or farm-owner|
|You have an existing family trust|
|Get started now||Speak to an expert|
* This could include a relative who suffers from addiction, or if you wish to disinherit a close family-member.
The executor of a Will performs a crucial role in making sure your wishes are carried out as you have written them.
Your executor can be anyone – there are no required qualifications or registrations (other than being an adult of sound mind and over the age of 20). Although there may be advantages to selecting a family member or close friend, you should consider that, following your death, these very people are likely to be already going through a stressful situation and may not want the extra burden of being your executor.
A further consideration is that as your situation changes through time, these people may come and go and no longer wish to, or be able to, undertake these onerous tasks on your behalf.
This is where using a Trustee Company, such as Perpetual Guardian, can be a great help. By choosing Perpetual Guardian as your executor, we won’t be swayed by family demands or loyalties and will act to the letter of your Will and in the best interests of all concerned. After 130 years of carrying out this very function for New Zealanders we have a thorough understanding of what is needed and can make sure your affairs are dealt with quickly and efficiently.
For details on the activities an executor has to undertake please click here.
If no guardian is named in your Will (and the other parent has also passed or is not a fit guardian for other reasons) then the family court decides who should look after your children. Generally the court takes into account any wishes you have expressed and the wishes of the children but without a Will, the courts may have no evidence of your wishes.
We also suggest creating a Memorandum of Wishes when naming a guardian – this document can outline how you want your children raised when you are no longer there – it can include such things as what schools you want them to attend and gives the guardian clear guidance. Contact us to find out about creating a Memorandum of Wishes.
Keeping your Will up to date is important. The last Will you signed, even if it’s many years old, is the one used in the event of your death. It is important to note that if you get married, the Will you wrote before your marriage is no longer valid (unless it was written in contemplation of marriage). You can amend an existing Will, but it can be complicated and you need to see a lawyer. Instead, it may be easier to make a new Will that is up to date and that includes any changes you want to make.
An standard eWill costs $100 where you appoint us as your Executor or $150 if you choose your own executor. The cost is clearly shown as you move through the Will writing process so there are no surprises. If you have a special voucher code, your Will may well cost less.
We charge a scale rate of commission for our executor role and administering the estate based on the gross value of the estate assets. Please see our fees page here.
An online Will (eWill) is not right for everyone. If the options you need are not available in the way you would like, then let us know and one of our advisors will be able to help. Please visit our contact page for a list of offices.
Any Will, whether written using an online tool or by a lawyer, can be challenged by people who feel they have missed out in some way. The best way to reduce this risk is to ensure you have talked to your family about your Will and what is included beforehand, so they aren’t caught by surprise.
We recommend, if you feel your circumstances are complicated (e.g. blended families or wanting to leaving a child out of a Will) you talk to one of our advisors to help make sure your Will reflects your wishes and is less likely to be challenged.
This will depend on how your policy is written. If you have named the beneficiary (the person who receives the funds when you die) then your life insurance is paid directly to that person and does not form part of your estate. If you have not named a beneficiary on your policy, then the proceeds of your life insurance will form part of your remaining estate.
An Advisory Trustee is not the same as a Trustee of any trusts created under your Will. They do not have the same legal obligations and responsibilities as the Trustee or Executor. Their role is to guide and advise the Executor or Trustee in relation to administering your affairs. They must still be involved and participate in an advisory role when any decisions are made within any trusts created from your estate.
After this 14 day period there are a few options:
- If you signed up to the WILLplus service when creating your eWills, then you are able to review and update your Will once per year;
- You can simply purchase a new eWills – the creation of a new Will automatically invalidates any existing Wills.
If you do not gift your motor vehicle (or any other specific asset) in your Will, it forms part of your remaining estate. The decision on whether your car is sold and the funds distributed as per your remaining estate, or the car is gifted to a beneficiary as is, will be at your executor’s discretion.
Yes they can. In saying this, it is a good idea to keep the beneficiaries of your estate and the executor separate.
No you don’t. If you own property jointly (not as tenants in common) the rules of survivorship apply, which means that if you were to die before your spouse, and you owned a property jointly, the property will automatically become their property and will not form part of your estate.