It is great when fellow professionals can help each other’s clients. Life insurance is an opportunity to leave a legacy before you can actually afford one but what happens to that money once you’re gone?
Lisa at Wakefields Law is qualified as a lawyer in both England/Wales and New Zealand and has an answer to that very question … wills.
What is a will?
A will is a written communication to someone who you trust, to deal with your body, your assets, and any other belongings or rights, after your death. You can also provide for the care of your children and appoint a testamentary guardian if you die before they reach 18; or you can delegate powers under a Trust Deed if the deed permits such delegation.
What happens without a will?
If you die without having executed a valid will, any assets you own will be distributed according to the provisions of the Administration Act 1969. Generally speaking, that means your assets will go to your immediate family if they are alive at the time of your death. Otherwise, your assets (known as your “estate”) will go to your extended family and if no extended family is alive then it will revert to the Crown. Other legislation may also apply if you, for example, have minor children (ie Care of Children Act 2004); a partner or spouse (Property (Relationships) Act 1976.
Why you need a will
In New Zealand we have what is called “testamentary freedom”. This means that (with some limitations) we are able to override the effect of the above-mentioned legislation. However, there are certain people who may find a way to encroach on your ability to freely dispose of your assets. For example, if you do not provide for one of your children or your spouse, or that provision in your Will is seriously disproportionate in comparison with other beneficiaries of the same category, then that child or your spouse may contest your Will by way of a claim through the courts. There is also another category of people who could challenge (aka “contest”) your Will – if you have received services from another person and you have promised them their services will be recognised by providing for them in your Will, then that promise is enforceable under the law.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us at Wakefields Lawyers (incorporating the practice of Simco Lawyers) on 04 970 3600 or firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions on Wills or any other legal matter we could assist you with.
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