The Importance of Updating Wills when Growing Your Family

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Happy daughter embracing pregnant mother, relaxing together on a sofa

According to the experts at Footprint NZ, a Will is an important thing to have, especially if you’re thinking of growing your family. Whether you’re having children, stepchildren, or adopting a pet, your Will should be updated to reflect your current situation and to convey your intentions for the future. 

The company states that there are various reasons why you may want to update your Will after having a child or when bringing a new addition into the family. 

  1. A change of beneficiary. If you made a Will before having a child, you may want to consider changing the beneficiary. For example, if you previously named your parents as beneficiary, and you have no significant other to bequeath your estate to, you may instead want to name your child as beneficiary.
  2. Choosing a legal guardian. Naming a guardian is one of the most important decisions you can make for any children you have under the age of 18. A guardian is only necessary if both parents pass away, or if the remaining parent is not capable of being the guardian. In these circumstances, if you have not named a guardian in your Will, the decision will be left to the Family Court to determine who will look after your children.It should be noted that stating your preferred guardian in your Will does not make it legally binding, that decision would be left to the family court. However by expressing your wishes the Judge is able to take these into account. Additionally, guardianship is not the same as legal custody so this also should be kept in mind. 

When choosing your guardian, you should choose someone who aligns with your values and agrees to raise your child the way you would have wanted. If your chosen guardian agrees, have a detailed conversation with them about some of your values and wishes you have for your child’s future.  

Footprint also recommends that parents create a Letter of Wishes when naming a Guardian. This document outlines how you want your children to be raised when you are no longer there. While not legally binding, Footprint explains that this document “can offer your Guardian some guidance on things such as: which schools you wish your children to attend, or where you want them to live, etc.” 

If the guardian you named is overseas or may not be able to immediately take care of your children, naming an interim guardian may also be wise, as an interim guardian can care for your children until the overseas guardian can be there.  

While a Will is a way to express your final wishes after you are gone, Footprint explains that “a Will is more about the people you leave behind as opposed to you having the last word.” i.e., a Will can help others understand and convey your final wishes without having to guess on your behalf. This also cuts down on costs, time, and stress associated with estate administration. This also means less money is spent on estate fees and more money is left to bequeath to your loved ones. 

Keeping your Will updated doesn’t have to be a hassle. Through Footprint NZ’s easy-to-navigate online platform, updating and keeping track of your Will is a piece of cake! They have packages that enable you to simply and efficiently update your Will once a year. 

If you’re looking to create your own Will today, join the thousands of Kiwis who are creating their Will online and visit Footprint NZ at https://www.myfootprint.co.nz/ 

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