By Jesil Cajes, Solicitor, McWilliam Tyree Lawyers, Wellington

A Will is a legal document that sets out your plan once you’ve died. This plan includes how your property will be divided and who will “step into your shoes” for your children as a parent when you die or they are called “testamentary guardians”.  Arguably, a Will is the most important document you will ever sign.

Having a Will gives you peace of mind as it enables you to manage your affairs exactly as to what you want to happen to your assets.

If you have children under the age of 16, one of the most important reasons for having a Will is so that you can choose who to appoint as their testamentary guardian. If you do not appoint a guardian, the Courts will decide who will look after your children in the event of your death. It is not guaranteed that this will be the person/people you would have chosen, so it is far better to make that decision yourself.

A Will only comes into effect once you die.

What happens when I die without a Will?

When a person dies without a Will (called dying “intestate”) it can be costly and stressful for loved ones who are already struggling at this challenging time (What Happens When I Die Without a Will).

When Should I get a Will?

If you have an asset worth $15,000 you should make a Will now. If you experience one of the following events, you may need to make a Will or have your existing Will updated:

  • entering a de facto relationship or civil union;
  • getting married;
  • getting separated or divorced;
  • having a child;
  • selling a property or business;
  • buying a house, a property or business;
  • any other significant life event.

Can I change my Will?

You can change your Will anytime as long as you have the mental capacity. We suggest that you review your Will if your circumstances have changed to ensure it reflects accurately if the unexpected were to happen.

What is the most important thing to consider when making a Will?

Your Will can be challenged through the Court if it is invalid. Therefore, it is very important that your Will is valid. You do not need a lawyer to make a Will, but your Will can be the most important legal document you will ever sign in your life. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice to ensure all criteria for a Will to be valid are met. If your circumstances are complicated, McWilliam Tyree Lawyers can advise you on matters to prevent any legal issues arising in the future.