Why you need a will, and how to write one
Everyone knows that having a will is really important, but it can seem overwhelming and hard to start the process of creating it.
Like having life insurance, health insurance and trauma insurance, the benefits of a will are easy to appreciate. It is all about looking after the people we care about should something happen to us. It also makes things easier by ensuring both your assets and any taonga are allocated as you wish, and without any unnecessary delay.
How to write a will
If you don’t have a will we strongly recommend getting one in place as soon as you can. There are a number of ways you can go about this.
- Visit a lawyer
Most lawyers create wills for their clients but, as they are charging by the hour, this can be an expensive process.
Many trusts, like Public Trust, will offer to help you write your will for free. This can be a great service, as they do they really know their stuff. But, be aware that they can come with a heavy administration fee – so make sure you know all the details first.
There are a number of DIY options, from booklet style kits to online templates. If your will is likely to be straightforward, one easy and legally sound option is the online tool My Bucket List, developed by New Zealand lawyer Mai Chen.
At Plus4 Insurance Solutions, we provide our clients with a template they can use to help them identify what they want their will to include. There are two good reasons to use this template. Firstly, you can go over it in detail in the privacy of your own home and hash out the details. Secondly, once you have done that you can then take it to a lawyer. As you have already done most of the decision making, it will save you time (and therefore money) on legal fees.
What you should consider
Before you write your will, there are a few issues to understand and consider. While it can be unpleasant to deeply consider the consequences of our own passing, it is important to remember that your will is not for you, but for the people you love.
- Beneficiaries. There are two types of beneficiaries – primary and contingent. The primary beneficiary is your first choice to inherit your estate, such as your spouse. The contingent beneficiary is the next option, if the primary beneficiary has died or cannot be located, such as your children or a sibling.
- Bequests. A bequest is a gift given in a will. This could be a sum of money donated to a favourite charity, or to a person who is not a beneficiary of the will. It could also be an item, such as jewellery or heirlooms, you wish to be given to a specific person.
- Guardianship. Deciding who gets your grandmother’s piano is far easier than choosing who will care for your children in your absence. You can appoint someone in your will to take over guardianship, if your children are under 18 years of age. This person is a testamentary guardian. It is important to note their role doesn’t include the day-to-day care of the child, or children, but they can make major decisions about how they are brought up, and by who.
- Financial planning. If you are responsible enough to be making a will, we hope you also have life insurance in place. In setting up your insurance you need to consider various scenarios and where this money would end up. For example, if you have given someone guardianship of your children – how will you fund that?
If you want to discuss your life insurance, or would like a copy of our will template, contact one of our advisers today.