Martin Hawes is a financial advisor, wealth coach and author who called Queenstown home for 20 yearsbefore moving to Christchurch
When life changes, conventional wisdom says you should revisit your will.
After 20 years of living in the Wakatipu Basin, I have moved to Christchurch.
That constitutes a life change and so, trying to be conventionally wise, I had a look at my will.
My succession arrangements are pretty straightforward: the bulk of my estate will go to my three children.
This is after I have left an amount to each of my grandchildren’s KiwiSaver accounts.
My thinking regarding the grandchildren was to leave them enough so that by the time they reach their mid-20s, there should be sufficient for a first-home deposit (assuming they are not buying in Queenstown).
However, one thing I did want to do was leave some kind of help to the region that had been so good to me.
For the last 20 years, I have basked in the friendships, recreational opportunities and community of the Lakes region.
The Wakatipu has been a great place to live.
And so, I changed my will to leave a bequest to the Wakatipu Community Foundation.
One thing that attracted me to the foundation was that you can target the cause you most care about.
During my 20 years in the Basin, I had roles in various areas — Community Trust of Southland, the Trails Trust, Wakatipu Health, Housing Trust, etc.
All of these (and plenty of others) do excellent work and have had big impacts on life in the Wakatipu — imagine life in the Basin without the trails, without the housing trust or without the Events Centre pool which CTOS helped happen.
Any of these kinds of things would be worthy recipients of a bequest.
However, the thing I care about most is children and young people.
If you live in the Queenstown area you will know not everyone is wealthy — there are many people who try to raise a family in the Basin and find that difficult.
These people no doubt do the best they can for their children, but a dollar will only stretch so far — some young people often have to go without some of the things their classmates can have and do.
And so, in my new will, I have left an amount to the foundation with directions for it to go to disadvantaged children and young people of the Wakatipu.
I am not sure how the foundation will use my gift to help these youngsters — I expect it to be decades and decades before I die and they get the money (this 20 good summers thing is a nonsense!).
Who knows what the problems and solutions might be by the time I shuffle off?
Nevertheless, regardless of the timing, I think there will still be disadvantaged young people in the Wakatipu and the foundation will be able to figure out how best to use the funds.
And so, it is a matter of trust — I trust the foundation to help the children and young people who need help using whatever agencies are available in some far off distant time in the future when I am dead and gone.
I have been so lucky: I was born into a family with caring parents and enjoyed the best of educational opportunity at a time when there have been no major wars or other disasters.
And yet I did nothing to deserve such a wonderful throw of the cards — I was simply born at the best time in the best country.
I am grateful for the peace, health and opportunity I have spent a lifetime enjoying.
I have lived 20 years in the most beautiful part of New Zealand with the best people.
And so, helping some youngsters who did not luck out with the same hand of cards by making a gift to the foundation seems a small enough token of my gratitude.
How making a will reduces stress on families
Sarah Ogilvie is an associate at Todd & Walker Law, while September is ‘Wills Month’
It doesn’t matter if you’re single or in a relationship, or whether you have children,
having a will is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your
If you die without a will, and have more than $15,000 in assets — think cars, bikes, KiwiSaver, bonds, shares, real estate and furniture — your family could be required to
apply to the High Court of New Zealand to obtain directions about the distribution of your
If that happens, your family won’t necessarily be able to make decisions in respect of your assets, because there’s legislation in place which states, generically, how they’ll be distributed.
A will makes this process a lot faster, less costly and less stressful for your family — your
will simply needs to be approved by the High Court (to ensure it’s signed correctly) before your assets can be administered.
If you have less than $15,000 in assets the High Court doesn’t need to be involved, but you still need a will if you want to direct your family how to distribute your assets.
Preparing a will’s simple — all you need to do is let your lawyer know you’d like one.
They’ll ask for your personal information and directions on the distribution of your assets
(usually using a questionnaire to help guide you through this process) and you’ll get a draft to review and approve before it’s finalised for signing.
For straightforward wills that process should take only a week.
While it’s possible to prepare a will without the help of a lawyer, you do need to comply
with the strict requirements set out in the Wills Act 2007, otherwise your will may be
invalidated — even unstapling a signed will can cause it to be invalid.
Lawyers generally charge between $300 and $450 plus GST for the preparation of a
basic will, and you’ll often receive a discount if you and your partner/spouse prepare
basic wills at the same time.
It’s often a far less costly and stressful process than applying to the High Court for directions on how your estate should be distributed.