I'm under 40, do I really need a will?

4 min read
16 June, 2022

Over half of New Zealanders don’t have a will. Do you really need one if you’re under 40?

Regardless of your age, if you have money, property, or sentimental belongings you want to pass on - or if you have children, family or friends you want to take care of - then a will may be something to consider.

We take a closer look at everything you need to know about wills.

What’s the point of a will?

A will is a legal document that can specifiy how you would like your property and assets to be distributed after you die, and can also note who you would like to care for your children. It also dictates things such as who will administer your estate and any wishes regarding your funeral. 

It’s a way to make important decisions when you pass that can help shape the lives of your loved ones. If you have children, a will can help ensure they are cared for by someone you know and trust, rather than whoever the law specifies. It may also ensure that any furry friends you have are looked after as well once you're gone. 

Even if you don’t have children or much property or assets, a will can help ensure that your most treasured possessions are passed on, and that dividing your estate is easy for whoever you leave behind. 

A will can also be a great way to have a positive impact after you’re gone by leaving money to selected charities.

In other words, there are plenty of reasons to have a will.

What if I die without one?


Dying without a will is called dying intestate, and this happens to 1,500 people a year here in New Zealand. If this happens the process of dividing your property can be a complex and expensive exercise, with any costs coming out of your estate (meaning it's taken out of what you want to leave to your loved ones).

In this situation, the Administration Act will dictate how your property is distributed. Your partner will usually receive all of your personal chattels, the first $155,000 of the estate, and a third of the remainder of the Estate, with any remaining property divided between your children. It’s important to note that if you are separated but still legally married your spouse will take priority over any new de facto partner. 

If you don’t have a partner or children, your property will usually go to your parents, or your siblings. If you die without any surviving family, your assets will pass to the Crown. 

What do I need to know about writing my will?

It’s very important that you write your will correctly, following proper procedures, otherwise it may not be valid. That’s why many people choose to get help from an expert such as a lawyer or professional trustee organisation. It's also important that your will is held or stored with either of these professionals.

This service isn’t always expensive and sometimes lawyers may even do it for free provided they are named as executor/ trustee (and will then take a fee from your estate when you die for providing those services).  ). It is important to ask upfront what the costs or fees may be for you and for those involved.

If you do decide to get professional help to write your will you should have a very clear idea of what will be in it before you meet with them. 

Now there are also various do-it-yourself templates available online. These can be a good way of putting a will in place if yours is relatively straightforward.

However, if your estate is complex and includes children from a previous relationship, a family trust or business, this option may not be appropriate. But remember, you still need to have your will held or stored with a professional trustee organisation or a lawyer or law firm.

Whoever writes your will will need someone who is not a beneficiary to witness its signing. You’ll also need to appoint an executor to obtain probate of your will from the court, and a trustee to carry out your wishes - these are people close to you, including beneficiaries of the will or a lawyer.

How often should I review my will?

It’s a good idea to review your will regularly, at least once every couple of years - or every time your life changes. That’s because the contents of the will may need to change if you have a child or a grandchild, buy a property, win lotto, split from your partner or get married. 

You should also make sure that your will can be found by your executor and loved ones if something happens. But it's best to let a professional trustee organisation, lawyer or law firm to hold onto it for you.

To sum up, it is a good idea to start thinking about a will even if you under 40, so that you have peace of mind your loved ones will be taken care of after you pass away. 


This 'I'm under 40, do I really need a will?' is general information only. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the FSC. It is not intended to constitute legal or financial advice and does not take your individual circumstances and financial situation into account. We encourage you to seek assistance from a trusted financial adviser, legal or other professional advice.

The names of any third parties are additional resources that you access at your own risk and the FSC takes no responsibility for any third party content. 

The FSC and its employees make no express or implied representations or give any warranties regarding this blog, and we accept no responsibility for any loss, damage, cost or expense (whether direct or indirect) incurred by you as a result of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this blog.  

18 June 2022

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