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People In Your Will

 

When making a Will, people usually expect that they can leave property to whoever they want, the way they want; after all, it’s your property to give away isn’t it? Why should you be obliged to give anything to someone if you don’t want to? Unfortunately, this is not the way our law works. As a Will-maker you have a moral obligation to a number of people to provide for them:

- Family members: you are under a moral duty to provide for the maintenance and support of a number of your family members, including your spouse, children, dependent step-children, grandchildren, and in some circumstances your parents. This means that if you choose to leave any of these people out of your Will without good reason, they can make a claim against your estate. You may feel a lesser obligation to provide for family members who are in a stable financial position. Believe it or not, your moral duty is not limited to those in financial need; many wealthy claimants have received large payments from the estates of their family members for reasons other than financial-need, such as the courts wish to recognise the place of belonging in a family.

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- A person you promised to include: our law allows for any person who has performed a service (such as gardening or running errands) for the deceased in return for a promise to be rewarded in their Will to seek to have that promise upheld. So if you once promised Little Jimmy down the road that you’d leave him $1000 in your Will as thanks for him mowing your lawns, he will be able to get a reasonable amount of compensation even if you don’t actually write him into your Will.

- Your spouse/partner: New Zealand’s relationship property law has a default 50/50 split of property upon the death of one partner. Unless you and your partner have a contracting out agreement (commonly known as a ‘pre-nup’), your partner can claim for up to 50% of your estate if adequate provision has not been left for them in your Will.

While it would be nice to have the freedom to make a Will which truly matches your wishes, this isn’t always legally possible. If you want to leave someone out, or give them less than they may be expecting, it is a good idea to state in your Will your reasons for doing so. That way if it is taken to court, the court will be able to consider your wishes before making any decision.

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Disclaimer: This article discusses its topic in general terms only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Legal Beagle is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm. We are unable to provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defences, options, selection of legal documents or strategies.

 

 

 

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Legal Beagle is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm. We are unable to provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defences, options, selection of legal documents or strategies.
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