Do you have a will? It takes less time for most people than watching an episode of your favourite series on Netflix. And you don't need to be rich to need a will. Often having KiwiSaver is a good enough reason to have this document that says who you want your money and other belongings to go to when you die.
It's Wills Week from September 7 to 11. So you might want to delay watching just one episode and make sure you're no longer one of the 48 per cent of all Kiwi adults who don't have a valid will.
The usual excuse for not having a will is you think you have no money, or you're too young. But who will inherit your KiwiSaver? What about your pets? Or any family heirlooms you own.
Covid-19 has made some people feel a sense of urgency to write will for the very first time. But more often than not those are middle-aged or older people who have reflected on their mortality, not younger ones, says Angela Vale, chief executive of online will-making service Footprint.co.nz.
By the time you're in your 20s you may well have more to your name than you think. The average KiwiSaver fund is around $17,000, points out Public Trust chief executive Glenys Talivai. You may also have life insurance through work, or your estate could get a lump sum from travel insurance if you die while away.
A simple will is fine if you don't have too many complications, such as trusts, second marriages, blended families, or cutting someone out who might expect to benefit. In that case, says Jennifer Tweed, Perpetual Guardian's national manager retail you may need a complete estate-planning review covering wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.
Although it's a rare occurrence, wills can be challenged in the courts, says Talivai. It's one reason why trusts have been popular, although some are now choosing to wind them up because of increased compliance requirements in the New Zealand Trusts Act 2019, which will come into force in January.
One of the best reasons to get a will is because if you don't the rules of "intestacy" kick in when you die and the law dictates who gets what. If a young mother or father dies, for example, they might have some of their money distributed to their own parents, not partner and children. If that parent has remarried, your money could then pass to the spouse's children.
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Vale saw a relative left struggling to make ends meet after a spouse died without a will, meaning his money didn't automatically pass to her. "She should have been fine after her husband died. [Instead] she was left on the bones of her bum having to borrow money."
It's not just money. Talivai has seen a case where the father's beloved guitar was fought over. In another one a daughter wanted her mother's special quilt, which wasn't noted in the will. It could easily have been disposed of.
The good news is that wills can cost as little as $100 and be completed online through Footprint, Public Trust, or other services. They usually have legal support so that someone with an eye for what can go wrong reviews your will, and escalates it if there is an issue.
Footprint, which works with Perpetual Guardian, offers both one-off wills, and also a service where you pay an annual fee, but includes up to $10,000 of estate administration when you die.
Life does take twists and turns, says Tweed, so do remember to update your will when your situation changes. That might be having children, hooking up with a new partner, buying a house or taking out life insurance.
Do have a conversation with your family/beneficiaries. If you don't plan to share your money equally, let your loved ones know, so there is less chance of a bunfight when you're gone. Make sure you explain the rationale and keep records of your communication.