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Heath Ledger’s Will not an uncommon situation

News release 16 April 2008

Heath Ledger’s Will not an uncommon situation,
says Public Trust

News reports have revealed that recently deceased actor Heath Ledger hadn’t updated his Will to include his young daughter when she was born. It’s a sad situation which serves as a reminder of the importance of preparing a Will and keeping it current. It’s one of the most important things you can do, says Public Trust.

Public Trust’s Managing Solicitor in Auckland Henry Stokes says, “Making a Will is all about setting out how you’ll provide for your loved ones after you’re gone.”

But as the Ledger story shows, it’s not just about having a Will, says Henry. “It’s just as important to keep it up to date whenever there’s a major change in your life – for example entering a new relationship or getting married, having a baby, buying a new home, or getting separated or divorced – otherwise your Will may not reflect what you really want to happen after you’re gone.

“At Public Trust we’ve seen several cases similar to Heath Ledger’s, where a Will is in place but hasn’t been updated to reflect the person’s current circumstances when they pass away,” says Henry. “The family often find themselves in a very difficult and emotional situation, particularly when children are involved.

“A Will lets you make provision for the care of children under 18 by appointing legal guardians in case something happens to you,” says Henry. “People often think that a relative or godparent can simply take over, but that’s not the case, unless it’s written in your Will.

“If a child is left without a legal guardian, a relative would need to apply to the Family Court to take over their care and welfare,” says Henry. “In that situation, the decision ultimately lies with the Court.”

Henry adds that Public Trust’s advice is to make sure your Will reflects your current circumstances. “It’s easy to do and having an up to date Will can give everyone peace of mind. It’s even free with Public Trust if you appoint us as executor and trustee.”

Public Trust drafts more than 20,000 Wills every year; and it holds the Wills of more than 320,000 New Zealanders. It administers and manages over 5,000 estates every year.

Working with New Zealanders for 135 years, Public Trust is New Zealand’s largest and most enduring trustee organisation. As well as Wills, Public Trust’s services include enduring powers of attorney, estate administration, family trusts, pre-paid funeral trusts, education and inheritance trusts, charitable trusts, savings and investments, lending and insurance.

Public Trust has 35 customer centres; 27 in the North Island, including seven in the greater Auckland region, and eight in the South Island.


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