Making a last Will and testament in New Zealand is an important part of estate planning. It is obviously the first thing that almost everyone will think of, however, as you begin to look into the subject of New Zealand Wills other terms for estate planning will start popping up all over the place and this can make matters a bit confusing. Wills in New Zealand are obviously about dealing with what happens to property and loved ones after death, yet they cannot deal with any important life changing issues that may occur during a person’s lifetime. To cover this area of estate planning other legal documents with various names are used. When it comes to a last will and testament nz and other areas of estate planning areas to be aware of are:
- How to Make a Will
- New Zealand Will Law
- Contesting a Will
- Enduring Power of Attorney; and
- Living Wills
Making a Will-NZ
There are a variety of ways for making a Will in New Zealand. You can use a solicitor; a New Zealand Wills online service, a New Zealand Will kit or a Will Template nz version. There is a set format and procedure that has to be legally adhered to irrespective of what approach you use or whatever type of Will you need to create. These procedures are explained to you and adhered to in each of the approaches, except the Wills nz template where you will be required to do research and read up about them first before writing a Will.
New Zealand Will law
If a Will has been revoked (see below) or no Will is written (dying intestate) then the estate and property of the deceased is distributed according to the pre-set rules of New Zealand as laid out in the
- Wills Act 2007
- Property Relationships Act
- Family Protection Act
- Law Reform Testamentary Promises Act
Contesting a Will-nz
A revoked Will is a Will that has been declared void. A Will could be revoked, in full or in part if it is incorrectly written, proper procedure is not followed or if someone had grounds for contesting a Will in New Zealand. In addition, if you get married or enter a civil union your Will is automatically revoked unless it states otherwise.
When it comes to successfully contesting a will in nz there has to be sufficient grounds for contesting and it must be challenged through the High Court of New Zealand. For example, simply being unhappy with the Will is not grounds for contesting. There needs to be something legally wrong with it and advice from a Will disputes attorneys will identify this. Before spending money needlessly to contest a Will it would make sense to view the division of the estate under the New Zealand laws above because irrespective of the outcome you may never be destined to inherit anything anyway.
Challenging a nz Will is covered by both Law Reform (Testamentary Promises Act) and the Property (Relationships) Act.
Probate – New Zealand
Probate in New Zealand probate process takes place after a persons’ death and is the process of administering the estate. In New Zealand an executor/trustee of a Will is the person or people nominated in a Will and Testament to deal with the administering process. Before the executor(s)/trustees can begin the administering process they have to apply for a grant of probate to the High Court in New Zealand.
Enduring Power of Attorney – New Zealand
All enduring powers of attorney (EPA) in New Zealand are about assigning powers to others to act on your behalf whilst you are alive. The person assigning powers to others is called the ‘Donor’ and the person given the power is called the ‘Attorney’. There are two sorts of Enduring Power of Attorney nz. These are:
EPA for Personal Care and Welfare – covers giving others the assigned power to act on your behalf in relation to decisions and management of your personal care and welfare. It only comes into effect if you become mentally incapable to take care of these matters yourself.
EPA for Property – covers giving others the assigned power to act on your behalf in the management of your property and financial affairs. You can authorise others to act while you are mentally capable and to continue to act if your not or act on your behalf only when you become mentally incapable.
Living Wills – New Zealand
In New Zealand, there is no legal recognition of a Living Will; however, family members may find them useful. A Living Will is not an alternative to an Enduring Power of Attorney.
A living Will (or advance directive) is about dealing in advance with matters of medical treatment should you be physically or mentally incapacitated such that you could not make your wishes known when it matters. Medical professionals can’t ignore an advance directive unless there are reasonable grounds to doubt its validity.
The Health and Disability Commissioner says validity revolves around whether you:
- were sufficiently informed to make the decision intended to be covered by the directive and that it applies to the specific circumstances occurring at the time
- were competent to make the relevant decision
- made the decision free from undue influence.