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Will Your Will Be Done?

16 August 2002


Public Trust wants “Make A Will Week’ to be a wake-up call for people to get their affairs in order and make a Will or update an existing one.

“Make A Will Week’ is being promoted by the Law Society and Public Trust chief executive Tim Sole says any move to raise the awareness of the importance of a having a current Will is welcome. The campaign continues to build on the work that Public Trust has done to educate New Zealanders over recent years.

Make a Will Week begins on August 18.

Mr Sole says of the 26,000 New Zealanders who die each year approximately 1000 of them do so without having made a Will.

“Dying without a Will means decisions about the assets you leave on your death will be made by someone else and may not be what you wanted,” said Mr Sole.

In such cases, families not only have to endure the pain of seeing a loved one pass away, but they’re left having to sort out their estate at a time when they are vulnerable and grief-stricken.

A Will is a legal document setting out your wishes when you die. It lets you provide for your family and decide how your affairs should be managed after you have gone. Making a Will does not need to take a lot of time, yet it can save a lot of heartbreak. A simple Will, written in “plain English’, can be prepared by Public Trust using their Wills Expert system in 45 minutes.

With more than 125 years experience, Public Trust prepares more Wills than any other organisation or business in New Zealand. Typically, Public Trust prepares some 25,000 Wills each year.

Mr Sole says people should look at having their Will updated whenever their circumstances change. This will ensure it reflects their current situation.

“Changing lifestyles or changes like the recent Property Relationships Act, can make an existing Will out of date,” Mr Sole said. ““Peoples circumstances change. They get married, buy a house, and have children and grandchildren. Others get divorced or separated and all these changes need to be taken into account.”

Public Trust carries out estate administration for more people than any other estate manager or solicitor in New Zealand.

Most people, even many lawyers, have little experience with estates. In any one year Public Trust administers and manages more than 6000 estates. The average for a lawyer is less than five.

Public Trust’s 24 estate managers are dedicated and caring specialists spread across New Zealand, who can help family and friends with every aspect of estate administration. Mr Sole says Public Trust estate managers are committed to making sure that an estate is settled so that the beneficiaries receive the most value possible from the deceased’s assets.

Following a law change earlier this year Public Trust offers much more competitive charges for estate administration. Public Trust’s new fees provide people with more certainty about the cost of carrying out the work to settle an estate compared to other providers - many who charge on an hourly basis for the work, which rewards inefficiency. The cost of having Public Trust administer an estate has more than halved in many cases.

In March Public Trust also launched a world-first service that lets people pay for their estate administration before they die - saving them money and ensuring their beneficiaries are not left to pay the cost out of their inheritance.

Public Trust is totally independent and is obliged to put your interests first. It has 36 Customer Centres throughout the country and hugely experienced staff including its own lawyers, tax advisers and trust specialists to ensure any potential problems are dealt with efficiently and thoroughly.

For those consumers who have access to the Internet, there is a facility to make your Will online. See Wills Online This service has been very popular. More than 1800 people have registered for Public Trust’s online Wills service since going live on 1 March 2002.

Public Trust also offers enduring powers of attorney. While a Will looks after a person’s assets and estate when they die, an enduring power of attorney operates while they’re alive. This means someone can look after your affairs if you can’t.

“I hope “Make a Will Week’ will prompt those without a Will or those who haven’t reviewed their Will in many years to take this opportunity to do so,” Mr Sole said. “Public Trust offers people a helpful free guide to making a Will and it is available at all of our customer centres or by calling us.”

If you want to know more about the services Public Trust can offer please visit, or call 0800 371 471. Alternatively, you can visit your local Public Trust customer centre, which you will find listed in the telephone directory.



MAKE A WILL WEEK 16 August 2002

Frequently asked Questions

Why is a Will important?

„X If you are over 18 you should have a Will, even if you are single and have no dependent children, because you still have family and assets. Dying without a Will is called intestate and means you’ll leave behind an expensive and time-consuming process for the people that care about you.

„X Your Will can also specify whether you want to be buried or cremated, and ensures that assets are passed onto those that you want to have them.

„X For someone in a relationship or with children a Will is paramount. Your assets may not necessarily go to your partner. If you’ve been together with that person for less than three years, then they may not receive a thing.

„X If you are the parent of a dependent child or children you will want to nominate who you trust most to look after them.

What is an estate?

„X Your estate is everything you own and owe before you die. For example if you own a house with no debt, but have $10,000 on a credit card, then the house may have to be sold to pay the debt. The rest of your assets will be distributed according to your Will.

„X It’s also important to remember that if you have gifts and bequests in your Will these are paid, along with any debts and expenses, prior to your main beneficiaries receiving their share.

When and why should I review my Will?

„X You should review your Will every time there is a significant change in your life - or at least every three years. There are many triggers for reviewing your Will, including having children, stepchildren, grandchildren, a new relationship, the end of a relationship, or anything that significantly changes your assets.

„X If you inherit money or an intended beneficiary in your Will dies before you then it’s time to review.

Why should I choose the Public Trust to prepare and execute my Will?

„X Public Trust has more than 125 years of experience and expertise in making Wills and administering estates. No other lawyer or financial adviser has that kind of track record.

„X Public Trust will be there when it is time to execute your Will and administer your estate.

„X Public Trust will prepare your Will for no charge providing it is named Executor of the estate.

„X Public Trust will look after your Will once it is signed to ensure that it will not be lost. There is no charge for this service.

„X The cost of Public Trust administering an estate has been more than halved for many people, following a change in Government legislation. From March 1, 2002, Public Trust has been allowed to set its own fees.

„X Public Trust is trustworthy, has in-depth expertise and resources, and offers good value.


„X Some 3% of New Zealanders die without a Will.

How long does the process of getting a Will take

„X Public Trust drafts Wills using their Wills Expert system and for most people an initial draft of their Will can be prepared during a 45-minute appointment with a specialist Wills Advisor. Public Trust has a guide that helps you work through the things you need to think about before you meet to draw up your Will.

How quickly will my estate be paid out?

„X In simple cases it may take a few weeks to settle an estate after we get the court’s approval. It can take longer where there are assets to sell or any legal or family issues.

Facts and Figures

„X Each year 26,000 New Zealanders die and approximately 1,000 of these people will do so without having prepared a Will.

„X The number of Wills written each year by Public Trust is around 25,000. 40% of these are new and 60% are updates of existing Wills.

„X Around 175,000 people will write a Will each year (Statistics NZ).

„X Public Trust is the single largest provider of Wills, preparing 14% of all Wills in New Zealand

„X Wellington and Christchurch have a greater proportion of people with Wills than Auckland. Wellington (78%), Christchurch (77%), and Auckland (67%).

„X 13% of 18-24 year olds have a Will. This increases to 99% for people aged 65 and over

(AC Nielsen).

„X 40 percent of those with a Will “say’ they are likely to make a change to their Will within the next 12 months (AC Nielsen).

Common terms explained in simple language

„X Beneficiary

Any person, organisation, trust or charity who will benefit under a Will.

„X Executor The person or organisation responsible for carrying out the wishes of the Will.

„X Trustee The person or organisation responsible for holding or distributing money or assets to beneficiaries.

„X Administrator The person or organisation appointed by the court to administer an estate if there is no Will or executor (or if the executor can’t carry out their duties).

„X Estate Everything you own (and owe) at the time you die.

„X Assets Anything owned that has a value and can be cashed in if required.

„X Liabilities Anything owed, including loans, bills, hire purchases, and credit cards.

„X Grant of administration


The court’s approval providing the executor with the right to administer the estate.

„X Testator or testatrix The person making the Will. A testator is male and a testatrix is female.

„X Intestate If you die without making a Will you are said to have died “intestate’’.

„X Distributions Money or assets transferred to beneficiaries as the estate is settled.

If you want to know more about the services Public Trust can offer please visit our website at, or call us free on 0800 371 471. Alternatively, you can visit your local Public Trust customer centre, which you will find listed in the telephone directory.

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