Nearly 50 per cent of New Zealanders over 18 have a will in place, and the Public Trust is working hard to significantly boost that number.
In July, the Public Trust celebrated Will Awareness Week by releasing commissioned research that shows leaving a legacy matters. The research revealed an increasing interest in and value placed on “emotional” legacy, which is less about finances and more about passing on values, taonga and heirlooms.
Public Trust CEO Glenys Talivai explained legacies can be many different things and go beyond money and assets — a legacy can also be about passing on family traditions and values, a favourite artwork passed through generations, or a sentimental jewellery item.
The research shows leaving something behind helps people, with 71 per cent claiming an emotional benefit from receiving a legacy, and supersedes the 51 per cent who received a financial benefit from a legacy.
Public Trust has had a presence in Hastings for nearly 100 years and has been helping locals since 1930.
In the 50 years since 1973, Hastings people have completed about 12,000 wills and 8600 EPAs with Public Trust
Hastings Leader spoke to Public Trust Hastings principal trustee James Ross about what a will is, who needs a will, why a will is important and how to make one.
Q: What is a will?
A will is a legal document that lets the people you care about know what you would like to happen with your assets and special items after your death.
A will can include details about who you want to be the guardian of your young children, where you would like your funeral to be held and if you would like to be buried or cremated.
A will may also include details about heirlooms and sentimental items that you would like to pass on to someone special.
Having a will is your opportunity to leave behind a legacy and helps take care of the things that you value the most in life. A will has the potential to leave a lasting impression on the people that you love.
Q: Why do we need a will?
If you die without a will in New Zealand, the process can be costly, time-consuming and stressful for your family and friends.
Many people think that your items automatically go to your partner or spouse when you die, but often this isn’t correct. Leaving a will can help provide your family with peace of mind during the grieving process because they know what your wishes are.
Q: Who needs to have a will?
We encourage everyone over 18 to have a will, especially those with young children as a will allows you to list a guardian for your young child/children.
Even if you don’t have assets or a lot of money, a will can be a good way to decide who you’d like important possessions or family heirlooms to go to when you’re gone. Don’t forget your KiwiSaver account, that’s an asset too.
A will is a great way to help protect your assets and mementoes.
Q: Is it hard to make a will?
Creating a will doesn’t need to be difficult and can be completed online with Public Trust in as little as 25 minutes.
Before writing a will, I would encourage you to think about your final wishes alone and then discuss your plans with your family and friends.
Sometimes it can be hard to talk about death, money, and the future and often people shy away from having these difficult conversations. We’re here to help advise and support you through the process, so feel free to reach out to us in Hastings if you’re finding the process or the conversations hard to have with your family and friends.
Q: How do you make a will?
A will can be created through a trustee service organisation like Public Trust either via phone, online, in person at our Hastings contact centre — or through your own lawyer.
I would advise you to seek your own independent legal advice before writing your will. Once your will has been written, it is important that it’s signed and witnessed correctly.
Q: What would you say to people who don’t think they need a will?
I was once one of those people. For years I’ve often thought that I “didn’t have enough money, “never owned a house in NZ “, or “wasn’t old enough” to need a will. I realise now that I was mistaken.
After working for Public Trust, I’ve realised that it’s still very important for me and my family to have a will in place to help protect my legacy.
Not having a will in place, I don’t want my death to become complicated and more stressful for my family and friends after I’ve gone and having my own will in place can help prevent that. Having a will in place is one of the best things you can do for your family.