Good reasons to make a Will
Writing a Will means you can ensure that your assets go to who YOU choose. When you write your Will you can choose a person or persons to be the executor of your estate who will act on your behalf and distribute your assets as you have stated in your written instructions – Your Will. You can choose guardianship for minor children and writing a Will protects your family from possible heartache if an unknown executor handles your estate and stipulates exactly who is to benefit from the Will. If you are over 18 years and capable of managing your own affairs, you should make a Will.
Updating your Will
Your Will should be updated whenever there are any changes in your circumstances, in your relationships or if your chosen executor/s is/are unable to execute your Will for some reason. If you marry, divorce, separate, have children, enter into or end a de facto or same sex relationship, make a major financial acquisition or experience some change in either your financial circumstances or relations, and you do not wish to die intestate, it is important that you make a new Will as soon as possible. Even if you have purchased, given away or sold a major asset such as a house or car, you should write a new Will. If you or anyone else named in your Will changes their name or contact details it is a good idea to update your Will. Keeping your Will current and up to date makes it easier for your executor to carry out your wishes. It is usual to review your Will at least every 5 years and completely satisfy yourself that all details are correct.
When relationships change
Marriage will revoke any Will you have made prior to that marriage. If you are in a relationship with another person but not yet married, you can write your Will, it will be valid up until you marry. Marriage revokes any Will. If you want to write a Will that is valid now and after you marry, you can do this by including a clause written into your Will that the Will is made in ‘contemplation of marriage’. This will mean that the Will you make now is valid and continues to be valid even after you marry. The Online New Zealand Will Kit has included this clause in the Will Form for anyone that wishes to make their Will now, and it continue to be valid even after you marry. The Online New Zealand Will Kit discusses this clause in more detail and contains important instructions on how to fill this clause out correctly.
If you divorce, any gift to a former spouse or any appointment of that spouse as Executor and Trustee will be revoked. Whatever you leave to your former spouse will be considered null and void and will become part of your residual estate. It is absolutely vital that you write a new Will after a divorce has been legally granted to ensure that any beneficiaries, children or dependants are provided for as you wish them to be.
Separation does not revoke a Will. It is safer to write a new Will in the interim period between separation and divorce. It is a good idea to rewrite your Will as soon as possible after any separation to ensure your Will represents your current status and feelings. After divorce is granted, write a new Will.
The most important thing to remember is that when your circumstances change, so should your Will.