Will trusts or testamentary trusts are the most common form of trusts. In this regard, your will is literally your last word. However, an extraordinary number of New Zealanders do not have a will.
If you die intestate (legal speak for no will) your estate is distributed in accordance with the relevant formula in the Administration Act.
Wills are not just important for deciding who gets what, but also deciding who will administer your estate and, if you have children, who you wish to appoint as a testamentary guardian should both parents die before the children are adults.
The reasons for not having a will are complex. Concerningly the number of people with no will could be increasing. Last year research conducted by the Public Trust showed that:
- 66 per cent of 25 to 39 year olds didn’t have a will
- 36 per cent of 40 to 54 year olds didn’t have a will, and
- 12 per cent of people above the age of 55
This year new figures out from the Public Trust, which no longer provides a free will service show that the Public Trust drafted less than 65% of the number of wills planned for by it. This suggests either that the per centage of adults without wills is increasing or people are using other resources for drafting wills.
Where those other resources include will kits or self-drafted wills extreme care is required to meet the requirements of the Wills Act. While errors in wills can be corrected after the will-maker’s death this requires a High Court application, which necessarily involves time, expense and delayed estate administration. See https://mattersoftrust.wordpress.com/wills-and-testamentary-trusts/what-passes-for-a-will-these-days/ regarding will errors that can be corrected by the Court.
- Administration Act 1969
- Wills Act 2007