Will they, won’t they – half of Kiwis have no will

Fewer than half of Kiwis have a will to protect their loved ones 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) to support Sorted Money Week on this week, found only 47% had a will, and even fewer women – 44% of women to 51% of men.

There were also ethnic differences. Compared with 53% of Europeans who had a will, only 31% of Māori, 25% of Asian and 20% of Pasifika people had a will.

The CFFC’s head of Community Programmes, Mr Peter Cordtz,said low uptake by Māori and Pasifika could be due to a cultural ethic of “collectivism”, 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 said she had 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,” said Maxwell.

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.

People put off making a will because they were busy, didn’t like to think about dying and were worried about cost – although services such as the government-funded Public Trust could provide straightforward wills for about $270. Maxwell urged people to use Money Week as a prompt to get his area of their life sorted.

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.”

For guidance on wills visit sorted.org.nz

What is Sorted Money Week?

Sorted’s annual Money Week this year runs from September 3-9. Money Week is an annual, national campaign, now in its seventh year, run 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.

The 2018 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 do not have one, yet leaving your family without a will can create all sorts of unforeseen problems, including financial issues for your loved ones.

For more info visit moneyweek.org.nz