Sorting your stuff this Wills Month

Media release
31 August, 2018

Remember how your parents made you tidy your room? They probably told you something about taking responsibility for sorting your things or not leaving a mess for others.

It was good advice. So good, in fact, it can apply to your life more broadly.

September is Public Trust’s Wills Month. It’s a time the company hopes more people will think about the mess they could be leaving for family and friends if they die without a valid, up-to-date will.

With less than half of the New Zealand population currently holding wills, it’s something more people need to think about.

“As we go through life, we acquire assets and develop relationships that come with certain responsibilities. Think of these things as the stuff in the ‘room of your life’ and a will as the way to sort and tidy that room when you die,” says Public Trust General Counsel (Retail), Henry Stokes.

“Dying without a will means no clear instructions for how these things are to be sorted. At best, this will mean some second-guessing and deliberating between those left behind. At worst, it can easily lead to squabbling and conflict between family and friends.

“Either way, it means time and money through the courts to resolve, and people are often shocked by how ‘the room’ gets sorted by the law.  

“What they just assumed will happen is very often not the case. This is especially true in the case of blended families. It can leave a bitter taste and a raft of resentment within families.

“Having an up-to-date will means taking responsibility for the people and things in your life. It means leaving well and doing what’s right for those left behind,” says Mr Stokes.

According to Public Trust research, some of the most common reasons people haven’t got a will include:

  • They don’t believe they have enough assets to justify getting a will.
  • They don’t believe there is any need to hurry with getting a will.
  • They simply haven’t got around to getting one or don’t believe they have enough time.
  • They haven’t got anyone that they to want to leave assets to or haven’t decided who to leave them to.
  • They believe that getting a will is expensive or complicated.

There’s more to a will than just how you want your house or financial assets to be divided. It’s also where you can:

  • Name a guardian for your children
  • Outline your funeral wishes
  • Name who will receive particular valuable items as special gifts
  • Provide special instructions around the distribution of particular assets
  • Detail your preferences for the ongoing care of your pets.

Public Trust recommends updating your will every 5 years or whenever there is a notable change in your life circumstances.

Anyone wishing to discuss how to go about setting up or updating a will can contact Public Trust on 0800 371 471 or make an appointment online.

Contact: Ian Letham, Content & Communications Consultant

Phone: 022 070 0979