Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
When making your Will you must nominate someone to act as executor and trustee. The executor has the legal responsibility to ensure that, on your death, the terms of your Will are carried out.
Choosing the right executor and trustee is important. The duties of an executor and trustee can be complicated, time-consuming and difficult. Duties performed may include Inland Revenue formalities, filing for probate with the High Court, dealing with claims against the estate, distribution of assets as instructed by the terms of the Will, holding assets in trust for a time (for example if any beneficiary is under age) or selling assets.
Although the appointment of the executor and trustee is your decision, it is essential that your executor and trustee can not only be trusted to carry out your wishes, but also have the required experience, time and skills necessary to do so.
Your executor isn’t only there to fulfil your wishes as stated in your Will, but also make things easier for your family during a difficult time.
Choosing an independent trustee like Perpetual Guardian offers many distinct advantages for the administration of your estate.
For more information of Why to choose Perpetual Guardian as your executor see our Estate Management section.
It’s important to update your Will whenever there are major changes during your lifetime.
Marriage (or re-marriage), for example, usually revokes a Will. So if you’re planning to get married, you should make a new Will. Likewise, if you’ve separated or divorced, or there are other special circumstances such as adopted children or children with a disability, you may need to make special provisions for them in your Will.
Regardless of major changes in your life, we recommend you review your Will every three to five years.
If you haven’t made a Will, you’ll have no control over how your assets (including your inheritance) are distributed when you die. In addition, those left behind may be subjected to lengthy and costly delays while the Court appoints an administrator to distribute your assets in accordance with the Administration Act 1969.
Under the terms of this Act, the division of your estate will depend on whether what family members are living and means that your estate will not be distributed in accordance with your wishes.
Although you are free to distribute your estate as you wish, in New Zealand there are three key pieces of legislation which may impose certain obligations on you when you make your Will:
- The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 – A spouse or partner has certain rights in relation to your estate. They have the option to choose if they accept what they have been left under a Will, or choose for a division of relationship property. We recommend that you seek independent legal advice when considering any relationship property matters.
- The Family Protection Act 1955 – Certain family members may have the right to claim against your estate if they do not feel they have been adequately provided for under your Will.
- Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949 – A person may claim against your estate if you breached a promise to leave them something in your Will in return for work or services that they provided you with.
It is important to be aware of what is covered by these pieces of legislation and how they may affect the provisions you have made in your Will.
An up-to-date Will is the cornerstone of a good estate plan. However, when completing a Will, Enduring Powers of Attorney should also be put in place.
They can help provide your personal care and welfare if you become incapacitated, and the ongoing management of your assets and financial arrangements if you choose.
And then there are Trusts. They too can be a great structure to protect your family and all you’ve worked for throughout your life and be tailored to your unique circumstances and needs.
To find out more, ask one of our experts for more information.