Wills in Alert Levels
For a Will to be valid in New Zealand, three people need to be involved in the signing process – the Will maker and two independent adult witnesses. All three need to be present at the same time so that the Will maker can sign in the presence of two witnesses, and the witnesses can sign in the presence of the Will maker and each other.
In some Alert Levels, this may be difficult to achieve, particularly because beneficiaries cannot witness a Will, and if they do, they will lose their entitlement. This may be problematic as most people are likely to be sharing a bubble with those they would want to benefit under their Will.
Mindful of these unique obstacles, the Law relating to the signing of Wills has been amended to allow for audio visual witnessing (eg using Zoom and Skype) and we’ve developed a plan to help you to achieve what you need to, without breaking any Alert Level requirements. We may not be in our Branches at present but we are working from home.
You can contact us by phone or by email to arrange a time where we can guide you through this process and assist you with all your requirements.
We are also able to assist where Enduring Powers of Attorney need to be prepared and signed urgently during Alert Level 2.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that gives instruction for the distribution of your assets after you’re gone.
It allows you to specify who you want to benefit from your estate (your beneficiaries) and who will be responsible for the administration of your estate (your executor).
It also allows you to record specific wishes around your funeral or the guardianship of your children or dependants.
Who needs a Will?
Everyone over the age of 18 should make a Will. It’s the safest way to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
A Will should be updated regularly to take into account major life changes, such as marriage, separation, having children and grandchildren or the purchase or sale of major assets. If your Will isn’t kept up-to-date, it might not accurately reflect what you want to happen when you die.
A valid and current Will allows you to decide what happens to your assets on your death.
If you die without a Will, your property and belongings will be distributed according to the requirements of the Administration Act 1969. In other words, if you don’t have a Will, the law decides ‘who gets what’, regardless of the needs of those close to you, or what you may have wanted.
What should you consider before setting up a Will?
When it comes to your Will, it’s always a good idea to get professional advice from an expert.
As a starting point, we suggest thinking about the following questions:
- Who do you want to be the executor of your Will? (Find out more about what an executor does and why you would nominate Perpetual Guardian in our Estate Administration section.)
- Do you have any specific funeral wishes? This can help your family with decisions when it comes time to arrange your funeral.
- If you have minor children or dependants, who do you want to appoint as their guardian?
- Are there specific gifts you wish to make? Such as a gift of personal items like jewellery, or a gift of money.
- Who would you like the rest of your estate to go to once your specific gifts have been made?
Helping Henry and Sam get sorted.
Why choose the Perpetual Guardian team?
When it comes to Wills, we know our stuff.
Before you make any decisions, one of our Client Managers can offer you a complimentary consultation – in person or over the phone – to talk through your situation, answer any questions you might have and advise how a Will can help ensure your wishes are carried out.
If you then decide to have your Will completed with us, your Client Manager will guide you through the entire process. They will draft a clear, concise and easy-to-understand Will for you.
Our Client Managers will work alongside our experienced legal team to ensure your Will reflects your wishes.
What does it cost?
The cost for setting up your Will starts at $150, depending on complexity.
This covers your initial consultation with one of our expert Client Managers; the drafting of your Will and any necessary edits after your initial draft is checked.
If you don’t nominate us as your executor, this is all you pay for your Will.
If, however, you’d like our expert team to execute your wishes after your death, our standard fees apply. You can find these below.