Inheritance or Estate Planning & Wills
Your estate is comprised of everything you own, and everything you owe - your car, home, other real estate, bank accounts, investments, superannuation (i.e. Kiwi Saver), life insurance, furniture, personal possessions, secured and unsecured loans. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common – we can’t take it with us when we die.
Inheritance or estate planning is for everyone. It is not just for retired people or seniors, although as one approaches the end of their life, issues related to what they will do with their belongings once they are gone become a greater focus. Unfortunately, we can’t successfully predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.
Inheritance or estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Although people who have built some wealth do often think more about how to preserve it. Good estate planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they can afford to lose the least.
An inheritance or estate plan begins with making a will. Our team can help you make a new will or review an existing one to ensure it best reflects your wishes. We can advise on the role of an executor and guide you through all aspects of estate administration, family/testamentary trusts, applications for a grant of probate or urgent letters of administration where there is no will.
We can prepare and administer a will on your behalf, and also advise you or your family on the tax consequences of different inheritance strategies, including establishment of trusts, the use and purpose of living wills or advance directives, and any other matters that could affect your personal or estate interests at the end of your life.
Retirement villages and aged care facilities’ contracts
We can provide advice if you are thinking of moving into a retirement village. This usually involved a different type of ownership to that of a standard family home. We can guide you through retirement village contracts, occupation licences and occupation right agreements.
Rest home care applications and residential care subsidy applications
We can assist with all of your legal needs when it comes to moving into rest home care, including applications for a residential care subsidy or if you are not eligible a residential care loan.
Enduring powers of attorney
We can assist in putting in place Enduring Powers of Attorney in relation to personal care and welfare, and also in relation to property. An enduring power of attorney is a legal document which sets out who can take care of your personal or financial matters if you can't - this person is known as your attorney. These are a necessity when entering most Rest Homes.
Sometimes, Enduring Powers of Attorney are not put in place and people lose the capacity to manage their own affairs. When this occurs, an application needs to be made to the Family Court pursuant to the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, to appoint someone who can act for the subject person. Such applications are usually urgent and we appreciate that the circumstances surrounding the need for an application are often a cause of stress. We can assist with the application and limit this stress for you and your family.
Probate and estate administration
Probate is the court process by which a will is proved valid or invalid. A will provides your instructions, but it does not necessarily avoid probate. Probate may not be required if your estate is a small one and doesn’t include ownership of land or an interest in land. However, land which is jointly owned will not of itself mean probate is required.
If probate is required, you need to have it granted to be the executor under a will. An executor deals with the estate and hands out property or money as set out in the will.
We can be appointed as executors of your will and ensure that your estate is administered in line with your last wishes. Estate administration refers to the process of collecting and managing the estate, paying any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property to the heirs of the estate.
If you lose a loved one who doesn’t have a will, you will need to obtain Letters of Administration from the court to be able to administer their estate and we can help with this process.
Probate and will disputes
Once probate has been granted the court, a will becomes a public record which anyone can search for and view.
Anyone who wants to make a claim on the estate has to do so within 12 months of probate being granted. This might include someone challenging the will; or someone claiming that the deceased owed them money.
Disputing a will can be complex, distressing and time consuming. It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible as strict time limits apply to making a claim. We will help you obtain your entitlement by guiding you through the process with understanding and sensitivity.
Wherever possible we aim to resolve disputes through negotiation, which avoids the cost and ordeal of going to court.