In recent weeks, the rather morbid subject of wills has been getting decent airtime on mainstream media. For example, Newshub did a feature on it a few weeks ago, and there are weekly articles on Stuff, such as the one titled "The case of the dead man with two wives but no will returns to court". While a lot of my friends and network will be young(ish) and healthy, and in more customary two-person relationships, does that mean there is no need for a will right now?
A month ago LawHawk and Succeed Legal released a free will that anyone in New Zealand can use. You can read more about this in this earlier post: Half of Kiwis over 18 don't have a will - what are we going to do about it?
We decided we would run the free will as a trial through to 30 April to begin with, as we wanted to be sure that it would work well in practice, and there weren’t any issues we hadn’t foreseen. Well, a month in we are very happy with how it has gone and have decided to keep it going.
In this blog, I look at what our objectives were and the extent to which they were achieved. In particular, I look at the current and future role of lawyers in relation to drafting and advising on wills and how that could change when the drafting has been automated.
[This blog was updated on 9 July 2017 to remove earlier references to a limited trial of the free will during April 2017, and to link to the positive customer feedback we have received on it.]
In 2012 it was reported, based on a Public Trust survey, that over half of New Zealanders over the age of 18 don’t have a will! Since that time it appears little has changed, as Public Trust referred to the same statistic in its 2016 Annual Report. It’s even worse for younger people, where 66% of 25 to 39 year olds don’t have a will.
Given that wills are so important, how can this be?