5 November 2010
Will and Your Intent
by Ian Mellett of Quay Law Solicitors
In this legal article, Auckland lawyer Ian Mellett of Law Firm, Quay Law discusses the importance of regularly reviewing and updating your Will and last wills and testament, which is a very important document that formally sets out how your assets are to be dealt with upon your death. A recent media article has highlighted this aspect as follows:
Will and your intent – Your last will and testament
Don Wilkinson, a police officer tragically slain in September 2008, executed a Will with the Public Trust in 1985, when he was 23 years old. At that stage his assets comprised two guitars and a second-hand car.
It appears that Don Wilkinson was a frugal individual who had remained unmarried and childless and by the time he was killed, his estate had grown to $2 million.
His Will effectively bequeathed “the whole of my estate both real and personal” to Ron Wilkinson. Ron was Don’s adoptive father and the wording contained in the Will has resulted in Ron being the sole beneficiary of the Will leaving Don’s mother, Bev Lawrie, without a penny. His parents have been separated since 1983.
According to the media, Ms Lawrie and other family members and friends say Don Wilkinson and his mother were very close, and he would not have wanted her left with nothing.
As Don was killed two years ago his mother is now unable to contest the Will under the Family Protection Act, as potential claimants have 12 months after a Will is probated to bring a claim.
Reviewing your Will
It is good practice to review your Will on a regular basis. Life takes its course and situations change. We have compiled a list indicating some of the situations that could prompt you to alter your Will:
- The birth of a child
- The adoption of a child
- The commencing of a relationship
- The ending of a relationship
- The death of a family member, executor or beneficiary
- The changing value in any of your assets
- The receiving of a large inheritance
- Moving countries, or
- The purchase of a home or business.