Wills and Enduring Power of Attorney documents are among the most important legal documents, but are often overlooked. Everyone from as young as eighteen should have these documents for the reasons set out below.
Why is a Will important
A Will sets out a person’s wishes after they die and appoints a person or persons called executors to be legally responsible for carrying out these wishes. It often comes as a surprise to New Zealanders that if you do not leave a Will recording how you would like your assets to be distributed, then the Administration Act 1969 (“the Act”) will decide for you.
What happens if you die without a Will
Someone (generally a family member) then must apply for Letters of Administration if the estate is valued over $15,000 and ask to be the administrator of the estate. This process can be more costly in comparison to that involved when the deceased has left a valid Will.
The application is made to the High Court and can take some time to be processed. The administrator then has full authority to distribute the assets in accordance with the Act which dictates who is to receive the deceased’s personal chattels and balance of assets. The Act’s order of priority may not align with your wishes. By way of example, in the case of a surviving spouse and children:
Matters to consider
If you do not have a Will or have not updated your Will for some time, you should consider the following:
Enduring Power of Attorney
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney
Enduring Power of Attorney (“EPA”) documents are equally as important as Wills. They protect you and your family in the event that you lose mental capacity (which could be as a result of an accident or medical condition). These documents authorise particular persons to step in and manage your affairs during your lifetime.
There are two types of EPA:
You require two documents (one for each type of EPA) in order to cover all circumstances.
What happens if you lose mental capacity without having EPA documents in place
In the absence of EPAs, your loved ones would be faced with having to apply to the Family Court for the appointment of a property manager and welfare guardian. This can be a lengthy and costly process for loved ones who are already in a stressful situation.
Matters to consider
Holland Beckett Law can assist with all of your estate planning needs. There is no time like the present, so please reach out to get your estate planning underway.
07 928 7098