Should the unexpected happen, would your loved ones be protected?
Perhaps writing a will is sitting at the top of your to-do list, but you never quite get round to ticking it off. There can be a temptation to deal with this kind of thing later in life. But, organising your will ensures your final wishes are granted, whether it be providing for your family or providing instructions for your funeral. So whether you’re considering writing your first will or updating your current one, here is everything you need to know.
Three things to consider before writing a will
Age is relative
According to New Zealand law, anyone over 18 years old is eligible to write a will. Although if you are under 18, there are still circumstances that will allow you to write a legal will. For instance, if you are married or in the armed forces. However, you will need the consent of a Family Court Judge if you’re under 18. Life has a way of surprising you, and everyone is different, so it’s never too early or too late to think about your will and what you’d like it to include.
Your loved ones will be protected
Having a will gives not only peace of mind to yourself but also to your friends and family. Should you pass away unexpectedly, having a legal and valid will ensures that your wishes are fulfilled after you’re gone. It protects your family, assets and gives directions on how you’d like your estate to be distributed. This is why it is something that is good to put in place sooner rather than later.
Consider your circumstances
You never know what might happen in life, so it’s always good to be prepared. Having a will is just another form of insurance. Everyone is different; writing a will should depend on your individual life circumstances. Instead of choosing an age where you should write your first will, or update your current one, consider the stage of life you’re in. For example, marriage, homeownership, and your assets are all factors you should consider before writing a will.
The best time to write or update your will
18 is a great age. You’re entering the adult world, making new life experiences and sometimes taking risks. This is a good time to get some of that adulting out of the way quickly and ensure that your family and friends know your wishes should anything unexpected happen to you.
When you’ve started to grow your savings
Everyone has a different idea of what counts as assets or what constitutes a reasonable amount of money. Still, regardless, once you start making money, you should also be thinking about where that money should go if anything were to happen to you.
Entering into a partnership is a significant event in anyone's life. Now that you’re potentially sharing your money and assets with another person and with laws in place regarding matrimony and de-facto partnerships, this is the perfect time for both you and your partner to either write a will or update your current one.
Becoming a parent
Just like when you protect your family with life insurance, writing a will protects your children from any unexpected surprises and ensures your wishes are met. As your children age, it’s good to update your Will accordingly as your wishes, and their wishes change.
Starting a business
Having a personal will can help protect your business and your private estate by clarifying precisely what you wish to happen. If you want your business to continue running after you’re gone, you can note in your wIll who should take over your business in your absence. This will ensure that your business continues operating smoothly and avoid messy legal disputes around new ownership.
Buying a house
Whether you’re buying your first home or adding another property to your investment portfolio, you should update your will accordingly, or if you haven’t written one yet, this is the perfect time to consider writing one. In your will, you should note who should inherit your property after you die.
Your circumstances change
You might have been triggered to write a will after a significant life event, like getting married. If your circumstances change, for example, if you go through a divorce, you should look to update your will. It’s important to ensure your will is relevant and reflective of your most recent circumstances.
When it feels right
There doesn’t need to be a significant life change to write a will or update an old one. There are also no rules when it comes to how many times you can update your will. This is your last testament and instructions for what you’d like to happen after you pass, so it’s okay to change your mind.
Four tips for writing a will
Do your research
It’s essential to take the time to understand what exactly is a will and how it should be written. Ensure your will is legally binding and although it doesn’t have to be drafted by a lawyer, it must be written clearly. Follow the best practices and name your beneficiaries and executors, including their addresses, while also including your life insurance policies.
Know when to update your will
Once you write your will, don’t just forget about it. It can be easy to write one and simply put it to the back of your mind. As mentioned above, anytime you go through significant changes in circumstance, you should reflect these changes on your will. Be mindful of losing family members or gaining new ones and ensure that the beneficiaries you have selected are up to date. This will ensure your loved ones are protected long after you’re gone.
Wills are not just about money
Although a will is primarily used to assist in distributing your assets, this is not the only use. You can include instructions on your wishes for your end of life celebration. You can also state chosen guardians for your children and even how you would like your pets taken care of. Your will should reflect what is important to you. Having a recent will ensures your final wishes are carried out.
Your last legal will is the only one that counts
Unfortunately, a verbal conversation does not count as a will. Even if you verbally tell someone your wishes or write them down. Unless your will is signed and legally binding, it won’t hold up. You can avoid this happening by making sure you update your will when your wishes change.
Now you are ready to write your own will
Making plans for the future can be stressful at the best of times. But, ensuring that your loved ones will be protected long after you’re gone is one of the most meaningful things you can do. Whether you’re stating who should inherit your estate or donating a sum of money to charity, writing a will is an important step in ensuring your final wishes are followed. And, remember, if your circumstances change, so should your will.
Chubb Life can help
Protecting your loved ones is an important part of preparing for the future. Another way to support your family is to consider taking out a life insurance policy and if you’d like to speak to someone in our Customer Service Team about insurance options for you, simply contact us or get an instant quote online today.
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