What you need to know to start preparing your Will.

Everyone should have a Will – but it's one of those tasks that often gets put off. All the legal requirements can seem daunting and having to sit down and think about what might happen after your leave this world isn’t appealing to most.

Getting your Will sorted can help bring you and your loved ones peace of mind. It will ensure that your wishes and legacy carry on into the future and that the people you care most about are looked after. It is a great way to gain control over your affairs and feel prepared, whatever the future may hold.

To help you get started, here are five things you should consider when writing your Will.

1. Who will be the executor of your estate?

The executor is the person or company who is responsible for ensuring your estate is administered and distributed in accordance with your Will.

When choosing an executor, honesty and integrity is important. It’s best to nominate someone you know and trust, who can act impartially with the beneficiaries in your Will. For this reason, it is not recommended to appoint your spouse, partner or children.

Your executor could be someone outside your family or friend circle, such as an accountant or lawyer. You can also appoint more than one executor in case the first person you choose is unable to fulfil the role at the time it’s needed.

Once you have decided who should be the executor of your estate, make sure to ask them if they are happy to take on the role.

2. Who will be the beneficiaries of your will?

A beneficiary is a person or people who inherit your estate or other gifts in your Will when you pass away. Anyone can be a beneficiary, though it is most commonly people or charitable organisations that mean a lot to you.

If you have children, you will most likely nominate them as beneficiaries, so you can ensure they will be cared for and protected after you pass away. Other beneficiaries can be parents, siblings, spouses, relatives, and good friends. Many people also choose to include charities and worthy causes in their Will as a beneficiary.

Fred and Gabi Hollows with their children
Fred and Gabi Hollows with their children

3. What do you want to happen to your pets if you pass away?

For many, pets are important parts of our family. If you have a beloved pet, you might want to make arrangements for their future care.

Although you can't leave a gift directly to your pet, you can choose a relative or friend to look after them. After that, you can set aside money for your pet's care, which your friend or relative will oversee.

4. Can you leave a gift to a charity in your will?

It is completely up to you who will receive a gift from your Will or a share in your estate after any outstanding expenses are paid. This means that as well as choosing family and friends as beneficiaries, you can also include your favourite charity, such as The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ. A gift of as little as 1% of your estate can make a significant difference to causes that you care about.

By choosing to leave a gift in your Will to The Foundation, you will be helping restore sight to some of the most vulnerable people in the Pacific. And just like Fred, your legacy will live on, helping to end avoidable blindness and strengthening eye health systems and the global health workforce for generations to come.

Craig, a passionate supporter of The Fred Hollows Foundation, who has left a gift in his Will, says: "I was impressed with Fred Hollows – the way he helped with giving sight back to people. Especially people in the Pacific who have deeper problems with their sight. Supporting The Fred Hollows Foundation ticks all the right boxes, the money given fills in the gaps.”

5. What happens if you don't have a will?

Without a Will, in the event of your passing, the court will be named executor and make decisions regarding your assets and estate, as well as what happens to any children you may have, according to its own rules and laws. Your loved ones may have to bear the burden of a long, unpleasant, and expensive procedure to settle your affairs, all while they are grieving.

If you have a will in place, you can rest easy knowing that everything is in order, and your loved ones will be taken care of. No matter what stage of life you are at, getting your sorted now can ensure you have one less thing to worry about.

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