Fewer than half of Kiwis have a will to sort their assets after they die, and the figures are worse for women, Māori and Pasifika.
A survey of 2000 New Zealanders by the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) found only 47 per cent had a will, and even fewer women – 44 per cent of women to 51 per cent of men.
There were also ethnic differences, the CFFC says.
Compared with 53 per cent of Europeans who had a will, only 31 per cent of Māori, 25 per cent of Asian, and 20 per cent of Pasifika people had a will.
Low uptake by Māori and Pasifika
Peter Cordtz, the CFFC’s head of community programmes, says in a press release that low uptake by Māori and Pasifika could be due to a cultural ethic of “collectivism”. This is where money and possessions are expected to be shared, and if a family strikes hardship, the wider family and community will look after them.
Among Pasifika, particularly, there may also be a religious overlay, believing “God will provide”.
Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell says she’s been told by Asian people that there was a superstition about wills, with many believing drawing one up invited death into the home.
“Wills don’t just cover your money and stuff, but everything you care about: who will raise your children, care for your pets, how you want your funeral to be run, and where you want your final resting place to be,” says Maxwell.
Blended families complicate things
The increase in the number of blended families made wills even more important, as couples had to consider their children, stepchildren, and former partners.
“If you die without sorting this stuff, it can create tension and fighting within your extended family, and your partner’s extended family. The law gets involved and things can end up very different to how you might like,” said Maxwell.
Government-funded Public Trust could provide straightforward wills for about NZ$270, the CFFC says.
Is your will up to date?
Once you have a will, check every few years that it’s still relevant – is there a new partner or children on the scene? Have you changed your mind about who you want to care for your children, or who you want to leave stuff to? Have you acquired something new that’s valuable that you want to include in your will?
“Ultimately, in our last moments, we want our thoughts to be peaceful, happy and reflective, and to feel secure that our will has everything sorted for the people we’re leaving behind. It’s an act of love, made in advance,” says Maxwell.
Money Week – weather life’s storms
Education around wills is being encouraged as part of Sorted’s annual Money Week, run this week by the Commission for Financial Capability to encourage New Zealanders to think about where they’re at with their money, and get sorted if need be.
This year, the theme is ‘Weather Life’s Storms’, focusing on three key things people can do to get through unexpected financial hits, be it a dentist’s bill, car repairs or the death of a loved one:
• A buffer savings account – save a little each week to create an emergency savings account for unexpected bills, and avoid going into debt.
• Insurance – consider what kind of loss would hurt you financially, what you could absorb and what would be better covered by an insurance company.
• A will – half of New Zealanders don’t have one, yet leaving your family without a will can create all sorts of unforeseen problems, including financial issues for your loved ones.
Find out more at moneyweek.org.nz
First published 4 September, 2018
JUNO does not contain financial advice as defined by the Financial Advisers Act 2008. Consult a suitably qualified financial adviser before making investment decisions. This story reflects the views of the contributor only. Content comes from sources that JUNO considers accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate.