Stars dying without wills? It's a notion that's difficult to grasp, particularly when musicians' estates often continue to generate significant revenue after their deaths. Yet in some cases, famous faces were just like a lot of us, and despite their millions, put estate planning on the back burner. Musicians Aretha Franklin, Prince, Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Sonny Bono and Kurt Cobain have all died without Wills leaving their grieving families a real headache to sort out.
Here in New Zealand 40% of Kiwis do not have a Will. Of those 65% are under the age of 40 and believe they don’t have anything to leave to someone so they don’t need to have a Will. Although a lot of people own their own home they still don’t feel that they have anything to leave their family, with the exception perhaps of a large mortgage. However, that is very often not the case.
With a Will, your estate is relatively straight forward to administer. Probate (the lawful recognition of the will as a public document) is applied for by the person you nominate as your executor, and your estate is distributed to those people who you want to provide for. Easy right?
Without a Will, an estate is considerably more difficult to administer and can be very expensive. Not so easy and why leave your loved ones with heartache and a headache?
Without a Will, Letters of Administration are required which involves determining who should apply to the Court. Generally that would be your spouse or de facto partner, children, parents or siblings. A grant of Letters of Administration also means that your estate may not necessarily end up with the person you want to have it!
Currently a spouse receives the first $155,000.00 of an estate plus one third of the residue. We have had a couple of situations this year alone where clients have declined to make wills. Most unfortunately, these clients have then passed away unexpectedly. It has made life very difficult for the family members, and especially when they are dealing with unexpected death.
Our advice? – Get a will, they are an inexpensive way to ensure that your wishes are carried out.