70 Percent of Young Families Don’t Have a Will in Place

70 Percent of Young Families Don’t Have a Will in Place

Research commissioned by Public Trust indicates that although young parents say that making sure their children are well cared and provided for is their top priority, only 30% of 25-44 year olds with children have a Will.*

Public Trust have recently launched a campaign to create awareness about the importance of having a Will. While the new campaign artwork is light-hearted, it does seek to highlight a real issue, one that Public Trust wants people to talk about.

Matt Sale, general manager of retail at Public Trust, says that a prevailing ‘she’ll be right’ attitude, combined with a reluctance to have difficult conversations, is at the heart of the problem.

“We all think, ‘it’ll never happen to me’. On top of that, many couples find it very difficult to discuss and agree how their children should be cared for, as both may want their own family to play a big part – and this can lead to people not making a Will at all,” he said.  “In the event of both parents’ death, a disputed decision about custody of any children is always made through the Family Court. Without a Will, parents can’t ever have their preference made known.”

Sale said that a key issue parents need to understand is the difference between custodial guardians, those who would care for a child, and testamentary guardians, those who would help make decisions about the children, including who they would live with.

“People just assume that if you have named someone in your Will to care for your child, then that is who the child would live with. That is not necessarily the case. You can express your wish as to who they should live with, but the decision about who would be the custodial guardian, if a dispute arises, would have to be made by the Family Court.”

“When we explain to parents the role of the testamentary guardian and the fact they can appoint them from both sides of their family or friendship groups, that gives them a lot of comfort. A testamentary guardian can also be a custodial guardian.”

Blended families and family estrangements frequently need to be taken into account when drawing up provisions for children in Wills. Sale says, “It’s important not just to have a Will, but to review it whenever your circumstances change. Not just in the case of divorce or second marriage, but as your life progresses. For example, for people with young families, the main focus is arranging the care of their children, but those with older or adult children are concerned about making provision for their education and also about protecting their inheritance into the future.”

“A Will is a critical document to safeguard your family’s future. We are urging all New Zealanders to get a Will made, and to ensure it’s right for their circumstances.”

*Source Colmar Brunton Wills Quantitative Research 2012

Contact: Matt Sale

Phone: (09) 985 6820