FAQs about wills

Below are some answers to the most common questions we get asked. If you don’t find what you are looking for however, please contact us and we’ll do our best to help.


What happens if I die without a will?

Depending on the value of your estate, your assets may be divided among family members you may not have wanted to recognise, and in shares that may be inappropriate. In some circumstances the government could receive all or part of your assets.

How do I make a will?

The law says it must be made in a certain way. You can get your legal advisor (lawyer or trustee company) to help you, or do it yourself.  Heritage New Zealand recommends seeking legal advice regarding how to prepare a will and leave a gift in it.

What things should I ask a solicitor?

Questions you can ask your solicitor or trustee when you are preparing or altering your will include:

  • Who is a suitable person for me to appoint as executor?
  • How can I make sure my young children are looked after properly if I die?
  • Who should I name as beneficiaries?
  • Have I adequately provided for all people who are financially dependent on me or to whom I may owe a moral obligation (and who therefore may be able to challenge my will)?

When you visit your legal advisor there are some things you can prepare ahead. Here are some items you can list ready to take with you:

  • A general list of your assets and where they are held (cash, investments, property loans you have made, insurance policies)
  • Name and address of any person you would like to be responsible for your estate after you die (your legal advisor can help with this if you don’t know who to suggest)
  • Details of any special gifts you would like to make to particular individuals
  • Names and addresses of people or organisations you wish to receive specific gifts from your will
  • Names and addresses of people or organisations you wish to receive what is left after all special gifts have been made (the residue of your estate)
  • Details of who you wish to appoint as guardian for your children.
What is important to us is that you feel comfortable with your decision.

If I leave a gift in my will, how will it be used?

The majority of gifts in wills are provided for the 'general use' of the charities and organisations they are left to. But you can choose to direct your gift to a specific project or use.  Heritage New Zealand is committed to ensuring your wishes are met, so we recommend that you contact us in this case, to ensure that we can actually carry out your wishes.

What words should I use in my will?

You can include the following wording in your will to ensure that provision is made for Heritage New Zealand in your legal matters:

I give to Heritage New Zealand  …..  (here you specify the gift such as:

the residue of my estate

OR

a portion of the residue of my estate

OR

the sum of $....

for the general purposes of Heritage New Zealand  (or you can name a specific purpose) and I declare that the official receipt of Heritage New Zealand shall be sufficient discharge for my Trustee.

Once I make a gift in my will do I need to tell Heritage New Zealand?

If you've arranged to leave a gift to us, we would naturally love to hear about it. That way, we have the opportunity to thank you personally and perhaps discuss how best to invest your future gift and ensure your wishes are met.  Letting us know what you've done also helps give us an idea of how many people are planning to leave a gift in their will, which means we can plan for the future more effectively.

But I’d like to remain anonymous…

Of course. If you do include a gift in your will you're under no obligation to notify us of your intentions. What is important to us is that you feel comfortable in your decision.