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Almost one million New Zealanders have no Will

News release 22 September 2008

Almost one million New Zealanders have no Will, says Public Trust

Recent research by Public Trust has shown that 910,600 New Zealanders have not made arrangements for what will happen when they pass away.

The research, carried out by Synovate [Synovate Research Limited, June 2008], shows that of New Zealand’s adult population (18 years and over) of just over three million - 29% - have no Will.

Public Trust Manager in Greenlane, Stewart Harvey, says, “It’s surprising that such a large percentage of Kiwis have no Will. That’s why we’ve made September Wills Month. Our message is that there’s no better time than now to stop putting it off and make sure you have a Will.”

“Having a Will is one of the most important documents you can have,” adds Stewart Harvey. “It sets out how you want things to be taken care of after you’re gone – including who you would like to take care of your children and how you’d like your assets to be passed on. It’s peace of mind for you and your loved ones.”

Public Trust’s research also shows that in addition to almost one million New Zealand adults not having a Will, there are a further 1.3 million Kiwis who haven’t reviewed their Will in the last 10 years.

“But it’s not just about having a Will,” says Stewart. “These days, life can change quickly and quite significantly, so when it comes to your Will being an important document which records your wishes for the people and things that matter most, it’s important to keep it up to date.

“Our advice is, as your life changes – having children or grandchildren, getting married or separating, the death of a loved one or even buying a new house – so should your Will.

”Public Trust cares about the interests of New Zealanders. That’s why we’re saying to those million New Zealanders who don’t have a Will - make time during Wills Month to get your ducks in a row. And getting a Will is free with us if Public Trust is appointed to manage your estate. So why wouldn’t you?”

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.



What is a Will?
A Will is an expression of an individual’s last wishes or ‘will’ regarding what happens to their assets when they die. A Will ensures the deceased’s instructions are clearly recorded and helps guide the people chosen to carry out these wishes – the trustee and executor.

A Will allows a person to decide who they would like to provide for and how they would like their affairs to be managed after their death. If there are children under 18, it should also appoint a guardian (in case something happens to both parents at the same time).

Who can make a Will?
Anyone over 18 can make a Will. People under 18 years old can apply to the Family Court to make a Will. A person under 18 years old who is married, has entered into a civil union or is in a de facto relationship can make a Will without having to make this application. A person under 18 who has agreed to marry or enter into a civil union can make a Will in contemplation of that marriage of civil union – the Will becomes valid only when the marriage or civil union takes place.

Why have a Will?
Dying without a Will is known as ‘intestate’. It can be complicated and take a great deal of time and money to sort out a person’s affairs if there is no Will. Close relatives and people the deceased cared about may miss out. Assets may not necessarily go to the deceased’s partner. If a couple is not married nor in a civil union and has been together for less than three years, the surviving partner may not receive anything. Dying without a Will can cause distress and uncertainty with loved ones at a time they are already grieving.

How to make a Will
Simply contact Public Trust and arrange to talk with one of our experienced advisors. Every Will is checked by our expert staff to ensure it is legally valid. Alternatively, use Public Trust’s Wills Online service which allows people to make their Wills in the comfort of their home. The Will is then checked by our experts, and we arrange for it to be signed, witnessed and safely stored.

Making important decisions
An important aspect of making a Will is choosing an executor and trustee. An executor is responsible for administering an estate, and the trustee is responsible for paying the beneficiaries named in a Will. Both these roles carry legal obligations, and require a lot of work and skill on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

How much does it cost to make a Will with Public Trust?
There’s no cost to make or update a Will with Public Trust if Public Trust is named as executor and trustee.

Public Trust Wills
• Total Wills held by Public Trust is over 320,000
• Wills prepared each year by Public Trust: between 20,000 – 25,000

www.ptnz.co.nz/ecap/splash/index.jsp (on-line Wills)

September 2008

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