It is important for you to make a will whether or not you think you have many possessions or much money. It is important because:-
- if you die without a will, (this is known as dying intestate) there are certain rules which dictate how the money, property or possessions will be allocated. This may not be the way that you would have wished your money and possessions to be distributed
- couples who are not married or who have not registered a civil partnership do not automatically inherit from each other unless there is a will. The death of one partner may create serious financial problems for the remaining partner although the surviving partner can go to court to try and get some of the deceased partner’s estate
- if you have children, you should make a will to protect the children in case either one or both parents or other carers die. You can name a guardian in the will and leave instructions for how they should provide care for the children
- it may be possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on the inheritance if advice is taken in advance and a will is made
- if your circumstances have changed, it is important that you make a will to ensure that your money and possessions are distributed according to your wishes. For example, if you have separated and your ex-partner now lives with someone else, you may want to change your will. If, after you have made a will, you get married or enter into a registered civil partnership, you will need to change it to include your new partner and exclude your ex-partner. If you don’t change it, your ex-partner can still inherit if s/he is named in the old will. If you are in any doubt as to whether or not you should make a will, you should consult a Queen City Law lawyer, click here to contact us.
- Check out this blog by QCL lawyer Ross Dillon. Where there’s a will, there’s a Relative – Deceased Estates
It is generally advisable to use a lawyer or to have a solicitor check a will you have drawn up, to make sure it will have the effect you want. This is because it is easy to make mistakes and, if there are errors in the will, this can cause complex problems after your death. Sorting out misunderstandings and disputes may result in considerable legal costs, which will reduce the amount of money in the estate.
Some common mistakes in making a will are:-
- not being aware of the formal requirements needed to make a will legally valid
- failing to take account of all the money and property available resulting in some property having to be dealt with under the rules of intestacy
- failing to take account of the possibility that a beneficiary may die either before the person making the will or before the estate is settled. A will can be drafted to take account of what happens to the beneficiary’s share if this happens
- changing the will. If these alterations are not signed and witnessed, they are invalid
- being unaware that marriage, civil partnership, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership do not invalidate a previously made will
- being unaware of the rules which exist to enable dependants to claim from the estate if they believe they are not adequately provided for. These are called legal rights. These rules mean that the provisions in the will could be overturned if dependents exert these rights.
There are some circumstances when it is particularly advisable to get legal advice
These are where:-
- you share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner
- you wish to make provision for a dependant who is unable to care for themselves
- there are several family members who may make a claim on the will, for example, a second wife or children from a first marriage
- your permanent home is not in NZ
- you are not a New Zealand citizen
- you are resident here but you own or part-own overseas property
- you are involved in a business
- you want your possessions to be distributed according to another legal system, for example, Islamic law
- you have online possessions, that have financial or personal value.
Life has two certainties, death and taxes. Claims against estates are an inevitable consequence of the former, and that inevitability has lead over the years to a number of statutes that have clarified the rights to claim.
Queen City Law has specialized in dispute resolution and has a reputation for forging successful resolutions in even the most bitter estate disputes. To look at more articles in the law library click here. To read more articles by Ross Dillon click here.Contact Us