Everyone needs a Will.
A Will is a legal document that expresses your wishes as to how your property is to be
distributed upon your death.
I have met many people who believe that the making of a Will means losing control of their assets.
This is not correct.
Wills have absolutely no legal effect until you pass away.
In your life time you can change your Will as many times as you like without having to be accountable to either the beneficiaries or anybody else.
Inheritance not automatic
Your Will gives you an opportunity to decide exactly what happens to all your belongings after your death.
Most people think that their partners and children would automatically inherit all their assets even if they have not executed a Will.
If you have assets of a total value of more than $16,000, then, your loved ones must apply for Letters of Administration from the High Court before any of your assets can be distributed.
This is not only a long and cumbersome but also an expensive process and often the cause for many family disputes.
Differences of opinion is the last thing a grieving family needs.
In many communities, it is customary to leave assets to male offspring/s.
No bias allowed
The law in New Zealand does not accept such a practice but states that children are to be equally provided for and that there should be no gender bias.
However, there is no reason why your wishes should not be honoured.
Therefore, I urge people to make a Will today.
If you have your wishes properly documented, at the least you have some comfort in knowing that your loved ones are clear about your final wishes.
If Wills are so important then why is it not very popular?
I often hear three reasons for apathy among people regarding Wills.
It is too expensive: It does not cost more than a few hundred dollars to make a Will which could be very high in value.
I do not like to talk about death: No one can avoid death – it is inevitable and hence there is nothing wrong in discussing about death. It would be wise to organise your affairs while you can still so, rather than leave your loved ones in a lurch to deal with the mess when you are gone.
They will not be impressed with what you have put them through.
I do not have time now. I will do it later: Death waits for no one. There is no time like the present, because no one has seen tomorrow. Your Will is important and you need to make time to execute it.
I hope you are now convinced of the importance of a Will and would do the needful for the safety and security of your loved ones after you have left this world.
As Leon Battista Alberti, a 15th Century Italian Renaissance Polymath said, “A man can do all things, if he but Wills them.”
Farah Khan is Partner & Notary Public Practice Manager at Khan & Associates Lawyers and Notary Public based in Papatoetoe, Auckland. She can be contacted on (09) 2789361.