Excuses in the way of the will

Media release
4 March, 2019

They say that you should never put off until tomorrow what can be done today.

It’s a handy refrain, but it may take more than a mantra to help many New Zealanders find the willpower to make their will.

Research from Public Trust* reveals the most common reasons given by New Zealanders as to why they do not currently have a will – a group making up more than half of the country’s adult population. These include:

  • Don’t have enough time or haven’t got around to it.
  • Don’t believe they have enough assets to justify a will.
  • Think that making a will is expensive or complicated.
  • Don’t believe there is any need to hurry with getting a will.
  • Haven’t got anyone they want to leave assets to or haven’t decided who to leave them to.

“These results show that there are still plenty of misconceptions out there about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of making a will,” says General Manager Retail Julian Travaglia.

“Anyone with at least $15,000 in savings should have a will, which includes KiwiSaver. Also, the cost of not having a will is likely to be significantly more than the cost of the will itself.”

Although lack of time was one of the most common reasons given, additional research suggests other factors may be behind this.

“There seems to be more to the inactivity than just a lack of time or a belief that the process is complicated,” says General Counsel Retail Henry Stokes.

“Many people appreciate the value of a will or see them as a responsible part of adulthood, yet they just don’t want to talk about death.

“Being asked to consider your mortality and make a plan for the people left behind seems confrontational and people can feel awkward discussing their wishes with family.

“The reality is that people often feel really great after making a will. They feel like they’ve done something worthwhile or virtuous. It gives them peace of mind and a real buzz.”

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 reviewing your will every 5 years or whenever there is an important change in your life circumstances, such as marriage, separation, a new home or a new baby.

(*949 New Zealanders were surveyed in Dec 2017-Jan 2018. Of these, 500 were recruited from a research panel to ensure a good representation of the New Zealand population. The remainder were Public Trust customers. Of these customers, 447 did not have a will at the time.)

Contact: Ian Letham, Content & Communications Consultant

Phone: 022 070 0979

Email: Ian.Letham@PublicTrust.co.nz