What Is a Will and Why Do You Need One?

Looking to leave a legacy once you go? A will is crucial for helping outline your wishes. Offering clarity and guidance, a will can help alleviate the burden on your loved ones, helping spare them from the anguish of guesswork or potential disputes regarding your wishes. Public Trust CEO Glenys Talivai explains how a will empowers you to shape the legacy you envision.

Leave a financial legacy with a will

Having a will is one of the most important things you can do for your family. New research by Public Trust shows around 98% of Kiwis want to leave a legacy, and a will can help you leave the one you want. 

A will is one of the best ways to clearly outline your wishes for what you’d like to happen with your assets when you die. Clear guidance makes it much easier for loved ones left behind, who don’t have to guess what you might have liked. It can help reduce any disagreements or debates over what people thought you might have wanted. 

A will is more than just your assets

A will isn’t just about property and other financial assets either. A will lets you outline your wishes for any sentimental items you’d like to pass on to your loved ones. You can also appoint a testamentary guardian for any young children (that is, the person who can make important decisions on behalf of your children).

And don’t forget your other precious family members, like your pets. In your will, you can include a plan for them when you die. 

You can also include your wishes for your funeral and burial. Starting with questions can be a good way into the conversation, including what music you might like for your funeral or memorial service and whether you would like people to send flowers or donate to your favorite charity instead. Have you thought about if you’d like to be buried or cremated, and where you’d like to be laid to rest? 

Not having a will makes it harder on your loved ones

Did you know only half of adult Kiwis have a will in place? And the numbers decline to 26% for those aged 35-44. When it comes to parents of children under five, 65% do not have a will.

Think you’re too young for a will? We recommend everyone over 18 has a will if they have assets worth $15,000 or more in one institution (this could be in a KiwiSaver account, investments, a bank account, or a house). When someone dies and they have assets worth $15,000 or more in one institution, an order from the High Court is needed before the estate administration process can go ahead. 

By having a will, you provide a clear direction for your loved ones and can help protect what matters to the people that matter most. Without a will, this process becomes more challenging for your loved ones.

Let your will be an opportunity to talk about what matters most

It can feel confronting to talk about death and the future, but these are important conversations to have so that everyone has clarity on what you want to have happen after you die. Talking about a funeral doesn’t have to be bleak or depressing, either. Funerals can be a celebration of your life and can be as personalized and unique as you are.

Not sure where to get started on creating your will? You can complete your will through a professional trustee services organization like Public Trust or your lawyer. Make 2024 the year you get your will sorted and help protect what matters for those that matter most.

Glenys Talivai has been the CEO of Public Trust since March 2019. She is a highly regarded executive with significant leadership experience in the financial services sector. Glenys is passionate about improving New Zealanders’ financial literacy and encourages all Kiwis over 18 to have a will and enduring powers of attorney (EPAs) set up.

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