In the final instalment of our Money Talks series, freelancers and sprightly young women Tess Nichol and Alice Webb-Liddall talk about the necessity of making a will, despite both being under 30.
Most of us couldn’t say when or how we’ll kick the bucket, but just about the only thing we know for sure in life is that it will end at some point, hopefully later rather than sooner. Despite this morbid certainty, an estimated 50 per cent of Kiwis haven’t got a will.
This means what happens to our money when we die is left up to s77 of the Administration Act – and that can create a whole lot of trouble for those we leave behind, says AMP managing director Blair Vernon.
“It’s not just about the assets you have, it’s about the clarity of instructions. I regard not having a will as the ultimate IOU to your loved ones.”
Thinking about how you’d like to be buried and who should receive items of high sentimental value (even if they’re financially worthless) will make the hard work of dealing with your death a little easier for your family.
If people want to forgo a will that’s their business, Vernon says, but he warns grief can heighten tensions between family members, especially after an unexpected death.
“You’d be surprised the amount of times families have an almighty argument after a tragedy because they can’t agree what was the intention.
“We want people to come together in a moment of grief and do the right thing for everyone and be able to have the courage to carry on, but sometimes the lack of will is the last straw and just creates a train smash.”
People could look into creating a will online, and pay for it online as well sometimes for as little as about $100.
“It’s a pretty simple investment for a removal of a whole lot of drama.”
So for Tess, who has just returned from overseas travel, and Alice, who is about to embark on an OE – and despite both being still in their 20s – maybe it’s time to think about planning ahead.
Tess: I’ll be honest, getting a will sorted has never once crossed my mind. It’s not like I’ve got any assets, and I’m only 29! What would I do, leave my brother and sister the $300 in my savings account?
Alice: I’m with you there, I’m not sure my stuff is worth fighting over. When I was little I used to see wills on TV and would secretly write down little lists of my stuff and who would get it if I died, but that was me at around age 9 so I’m not sure they’d stand up legally.
Tess: That’s really sweet and only a little morbid, Alice. I reckon once you start thinking about all the practical steps which need to be taken it does make you see the non-financial value of a will. Do I want to be cremated or buried, and where would I want my ashes scattered? I’ve never discussed that with my family, and I’d hate for them to end up fighting about anything because no one could agree about what I would have wanted. Have you Alice?
Alice: I’ve never talked about anything like that with my family. It seems kind of scary because I know if I bring it up then they’re more than likely to start talking about their own deaths and I’m a lot more comfortable with the idea of myself dying than my loved ones dying.
I definitely want to make sure my family isn’t over-spending if they ever do have to say goodbye, so I should probably at least let them know the basics of what I want to happen.
Tess: I totally agree – I don’t want to sting my family with a $10,000 burial cost. I want to be cremated! I never told them that. God, maybe I need life insurance as well. It’s all a bit grim isn’t it.
Alice: And I guess that’s why people put it off, because it is grim. Nobody wants to think about themselves or their loved ones dying. My (frankly terrible) philosophy that if I don’t think about things for long enough they’ll go away doesn’t really apply to dying.
Tess: Haha. Do you think going away will make you think about this kind of thing a bit more? I got travel insurance for my trip so at least that would have covered a few of the urgent things if everything went catastrophically wrong, but I guess I didn’t appreciate the fact that travel comes with a few more risks than staying at home and I hadn’t left any kind of plan for my family in case I never made it home.
Alice: It does make me think a little bit. I’m on the same boat in terms of travel insurance, that’s something I’ll definitely be getting. However, I’m an optimist so probably still won’t look into spending money on making post-death plans just yet. I think maybe having a talk about it and thinking about it can’t hurt though.
Tess: Yeah, a talk is a good place to start even if actually following through still seems a bit… premature? Although it’s quite good knowing you can do it online, if I had to go into a bank or something I’m honestly not sure I’d bother until I had kids.
Alice: Very true. Anything I can do while in my dressing gown on my couch is about 90% more likely to get done than anything that requires I put on pants.
Tess: Yeah if I have to put a bra on to run an errand, that errand is never going to get run. I’ll probably die early from my sedentary lifestyle so maybe I should start thinking about a will now, actually.
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