Less than half of adult Kiwis have a will

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Do you have a will?

According to new research from the Commission for Financial Capability, less than half of Kiwi’s have a will.

Having a will is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. Not only can a will legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, it can also spell out exactly how you would like things handled after you have passed on.

While each person’s situation varies, here are five good reasons to have a will.

1) You decide how your estate will be distributed. A will is a legally-binding document that lets you determine how you would like your estate to be handled upon your death. If you die without a will, there is no guarantee that your intended desires will be carried out. Having a will helps minimize any family fights about your estate that may arise, and also determines the “who, what, and when” of your estate.

2) You decide who will take care of your children. A will allows you to make an informed decision about who should take care of your children. Absent a will, the court will take it upon itself to choose among family members or state-appointed guardians. Having a will allows you to appoint the person you want to raise your children or better, make sure it is not someone you do not want to raise your children.

3) To avoid a lengthy probate process (sometimes it takes years). Contrary to common belief, all estates must go through the probate process, with or without a will. Having a will however, speeds up the probate process and informs the court how you’d like your estate divided. Probate courts serve the purpose of “administering your estate”, and when you die without a will (known as dying “intestate”), the court will decide how to divide estate without your input, which can also cause long, unnecessary delays and it may cost your family members thousands of dollars if they have to appoint lawyers to fight for what’s right in court.  Of course Loansmart can help your family pay legal fees of this type with a loan, but we’d rather you had a will in place.

4) You decide who will wind up the affairs of your estate. Your appointed executors make sure all your affairs are in order, including paying off bills, loans, cancelling your credit cards, and notifying the bank and other business establishments. Because executors play the biggest role in the administration of your estate, you’ll want to be sure to appoint someone who is honest, trustworthy, and organized (which may or may not always be a family member).

5) You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit. Most people do not realize they can disinherit individuals out of their will. Yes, you may wish to disinherit individuals who may otherwise inherit your estate if you die without a will. Because wills specifically outline how you would like your estate distributed, absent a will your estate may end up on the wrong hands or in the hands of someone you did not intend (such as an ex-spouse with whom you had a bitter divorce).

Plan ahead, talk to your lawyer soon and organise a will.