Where there’s a will, there’s a way

You’re never too young to start think­ing about what hap­pens to your loved ones and prop­erty af­ter your death, writes Erin Reilly.

Waitaki Herald - - BACKYARD BANTER -

Hy­po­thet­i­cally speak­ing, if I were to get hit by a bus tomorrow, dead me doesn’t have any rights when it comes to my stuff.

That’s be­cause I don’t have a will. I have a hus­band, a child and a house, but no will. And there’s some­thing wrong with that state­ment.

If there’s one conversation that makes me re­alise that I’m not get­ting any younger, it’s this one. I don’t know about you, but I gen­er­ally as­so­ciate the con­cept of a will with old peo­ple, or at least peo­ple who have a lot of stuff to divvy up when they die.

I’ve got to be hon­est, while I’m on the el­derly side of 30, I don’t have much stuff, so I’ve never re­ally thought about what will hap­pen to it when I die. But as my son ap­proaches his sec­ond birth­day, I’ve re­alised that sort­ing out my will is less about wor­ry­ing when I might die, and more about mak­ing sure he’s OK when­ever it hap­pens while main­tain­ing my voice even when I’m not here to use it.

Sim­ply put, a will is a le­gal doc­u­ment that states ex­actly what you want to hap­pen with your life af­ter you’ve lost it.

Once it has been signed, it can’t be changed un­less you change it your­self (which ob­vi­ously you can’t do once you die). You can de­cide how your fu­neral’s go­ing to be staged. You can de­cide how your estate will be split and who will get what (and if you want to leave it all to char­ity, so be it).

Most im­por­tantly, you can de­cide who will look af­ter your chil­dren and how some parts of their lives will play out when you’re gone.

If you don’t have a will, you lose your voice and the rights you had when you were alive.

The law will de­cide how your estate will get di­vided and who looks af­ter your chil­dren – and what a lawyer de­cides might not be what you would have wanted. That’s ac­tu­ally quite scary. Not only might I not be here to watch my son grow up, he might also not grow up with the peo­ple I want him to or the way I want him to.

I’ve been look­ing at the Public Trust web­site for some guid­ance.

This Govern­ment-ap­pointed cor­po­ra­tion draws up about 6600 wills every year, so they know their stuff. Be­cause wills are le­gal doc­u­ments and there­fore need to be drawn up by a lawyer, there is some cost as­so­ci­ated with it, but $199 for a stan­dard will (or $345 for a cou­ple) is pretty rea­son­able.

If you’re also won­der­ing if you need to draw up a will or up­date your ex­ist­ing one, now is as good a time as any.

Don’t be afraid to ask around for ad­vice on Neigh­bourly ei­ther; a lo­cal lawyer might be able to help you or­gan­ise your will to give you peace of mind.

If you don’t have a will, you lose your voice and the rights you had when you were alive.

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