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Do you have a will?

Only half of all New Zealand adults have a Will. Are you one of them?

While some may view it as a taboo subject, death is a fact of life and a Will is an important planning tool in making sure your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are provided for after you are gone.

When you die, everything you own - and everything you owe - becomes your ‘estate’ and is covered by the Wills Act 2007. This includes everything from property and business assets, to family heirlooms and keepsakes.

“Making sure you have an up-to-date Will in place can help relieve financial and emotional pressure on those who are left behind,” says Denise Arnold, a co-director and trust and estate planning specialist with Tauranga law firm Lyon O’Neale Arnold.

In particular, you should make a Will when you marry, or enter into a civil union or de facto relationship, or when you have children – and you should revise your Will if a relationship ends, advises Denise.

You may also want to consider setting up a trust to protect the ownership of your assets.

The structure of a discretionary family trust can provide more flexibility and protection than property held under a Will for children and grandchildren, says Denise.

“Trusts make it possible to maintain ownership of property within the family and to avoid assets being lost through relationships or business failings.

“In the end what matters most is that those you love are taken care of. The law provides a means of achieving this.”

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