If you are in any doubt about the benefits of having a lawyer prepare your will, right now read this.
Nobody wants to think about their will – they involve you spending money on something that will only ever be used after your death. But you really have to have one.
People often ask us why they should spend the $350 odd dollars to get a lawyer to draft their will when they can just get one off the internet. The answer is that wills are the most litigated document you will ever sign. If you don’t get it right (which is the risk with home-made wills) or if you die without a will you leave an expensive source of conflict for your family to sort out. Estate litigation is a costly exercise with legal fees ranging from the tens to hundreds of thousands. It makes much more sense to invest in having a will prepared by a legal professional to be confident you’ve got it sorted.
In New Zealand you are more likely to go to court over a will than over any other document.
Your word is not law when it comes to bequeathing your worldly goods. You have obligations even after your death that mean the Court can overturn your will if you haven’t fulfilled those obligations. The cost and stress of defending a claim to overturn a loved one’s will is a real burden. And in most cases it would have been avoided if the will maker had had sensible legal advice when the will was drafted.
Another big thing is reviewing your will every 5 years. Things change, babies are born, partnerships break up. If your new partner doesn’t get around to updating her will you could be left to deal with her ex-partner who was named as executor and sole beneficiary 10 years ago when she last did her will. Wills do lapse when you get married. If you have a family trust you may also want to change the person who takes your powers of appointment of new trustees.
Another good thing to do in a will is appoint a testamentary guardian so that someone you trust will have the right to be involved in decisions about what happens to your children after you go.
Doing a quick legal spring clean is an easy way to meet your local lawyer, and get your affairs sorted so that no-one ever has to do it for you.
Henderson Reeves are your local, friendly, mobile lawyers – Taina and Shelley are happy to talk you through your legal spring clean on 09 2813723. Or on mobile: Taina Henderson on 027 537 9222 or Shelley Funnell on 027 537 9221. We have the experience and backing of a full service law firm of 35 years standing – if you have a legal issue, we can help.