Approximately 5 % of new Zealanders will die without a will in circumstances where a court application will be necessary to determine how the deceased’s estate is to be distributed
We are also seeing a growing number of wills contested under various legislation, as well as a So what happens if you do not have a will? Where this is the case, regardless of what your wishes might be the Administration Act 1969 will determine how your estate is distributed. This means that:
- If you leave a spouse or partner but no parents, children or other descendants: The spouse or partner receives the whole estate.
- If you leave a spouse or partner and children or other descendants: The spouse or partner will receive the personal chattels plus $155,000 (with interest) and one third of anything that is left. The children receive the remaining two thirds. If any of them have died, their children receive their share and so on for each generation.
- If you leave a spouse or partner and parents but no children or other descendants: The spouse or partner is entitled to the personal chattels plus $155,000 (with interest) and two thirds of anything that is left. The parents receive the remaining third.
- If you leave children or other descendants but no spouse or partner: The children receive the whole estate equally and if any of them have died, their children receive their share and so on for each generation.
- If all else fails: The next in line (in order of priority) are: any surviving parent or parents; brothers and sisters (if any have died then their descendants); grandparents; uncles and aunts and their descendants.
- If you have none of the above: Everything passes to the State. Dependents and anyone who might reasonably expect to have benefited may apply to the New Zealand Treasury which may pay out some of the estate to them.
If you have a family trust where the deed allows you to nominate an appointor in your will, this opportunity will be lost as well as the opportunity to have your assets transferred to your trust on your death and to forgive any outstanding debts.
If you don’t have a will, or your current will has not been reviewed for some time, you should call your lawyer now to arrange an appointment to review or make a will.