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.
As I noted in my earlier blog (Half of Kiwis over 18 don’t have a will – what are we going to do about it?), a lot of New Zealanders don't have wills. It's not really clear why that is, but one reason is that a lot of people think they haven't got enough assets to make it worthwhile.
With the growth of KiwiSaver balances, that is often not the case. Average KiwiSaver balances are now approaching $15,000, which is the threshold for administration of an estate without a will. Above that figure, and the family has to go to court to have someone appointed as the administrator. Stuff recently drew attention to this issue, and also to the free will that we recently launched with Matt Hay.