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4 common misconceptions about Wills

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Many people misunderstand the issue of contesting wills, often believing they are uncontestable.

emptycanHowever there are 4 fairly common reasons for a will to be challenged, and re-considered by the courts.

1.  Division of relationship property

When a partner or spouse is not included in someone’s Will, it can be challenged. If a couple has been in a relationship for three or more years, or have had a child together, it is generally held that you are entitled to half of the relationship property.

2.  Moral duty

When family relationships break down it does not necessarily mean that you lose the ability to be remembered in your parents will. Even if it had got to the point of “not talking to each other ”there is a strong argument that parents have a moral duty to provide some of their property to you. This argument can often be successfully extended to grandchildren, step-children being able to make the same claim.

3.  Invalid Will

Especially with wills made late in life there are often grounds for the entire will being invalidated, such as it not being signed or witnessed properly, or when elderly people have been inappropriately pressured in creating their Will. There is also the matter of whether someone was in full control of their own mind at the time of making the will, and that can be sufficient grounds to have a Will challenged.

4.  Promises not kept

Often a person promises money or possessions (particularly items of sentimental value) to a particular person, and this is not reflected in the Will. When a promise is made, and not kept, that is sufficient grounds to challenge a Will usually.

 How do you contest a Will?

There is no better tip than “get expert legal advice”. Generally an excellent lawyer will try to seek a resolution that works for all parties without having to go to court as that can be expensive, and creating permanent relationship damage in families. If taking the matter to court is required, then you will definitely need an expert who understands both the law, and the process of navigating the issues.

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It is not “IF”… It is “When”…

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Disasters happen for everyone at some point in their lives

smiling ladyA  sudden critical illness, incapacitation, or even death. It happens in every family at some point, and nothing can prevent the shock and distress.

What you can do though is make it easy for those around you to find critical documents and key information at a time when they are struggling.

To set up a mini Personal Disaster Recovery Plan follow these three simple steps:

  1. Inventory
    A complete inventory of your possessions will fast track any insurance claims. Your inventory can consist of a physical list stored outside your residence, or pictures or videos uploaded to a secure digital location (such as a Dropbox folder). Regardless of the method used, the more details and specifics included in your list (makes, models, serial numbers), the better.

    Keep a track of your assets and property in a digital form (such as the same Dropbox folder) as well as keeping the important papers in one location.

  2. Keep your Papers Safe
    Important documents, such as Wills, Trust Deeds, Birth Certificates, Insurance Policies etc. ideally should be stored somewhere outside of your home for easy retrieval if your house is destroyed, although that is not always practical.

    You should electronically scan or copy those documents though and save those in a secure digital location so at least you have records of original documents if the real ones are lost. If you don’t have a scanner, take photo’s with your smartphone!
  3. Know Your Numbers
    There will probably be a lot of calls and organisations to contact in the event of a personal disaster, so make it easy for the people looking after your affairs to find the key numbers. Keep critical numbers handy, including phone numbers of family and friends, as well as:
    • All insurance policy details and numbers
    • Drivers license number, passport details and any other official identification details
    • Bank account numbers and account names
    • Professional advisers’ contact information (lawyer; accountant; financial adviser; doctor; etc)
    • Passwords

As with all other critical data, these numbers must be kept in a remote but accessible location, on your mobile phone, or in secured digital format. And tell at least a couple of people where you've stored them perhaps your partner, spouse, children, or a trusted friend.

Work on the theory that it is “when…not IF…” and things will be much easier for everyone.

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Extended Warranties are Often a Waste of Money

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Why Spend Money When You Don't Need To?

red traffic lightI'm looking at a flyer for a outfit that sells electronic devices. In it they are promoting their extended warranty and accidental damage insurance. Everyones situation is different, but beware of these things. If you are buying goods or services in New Zealand as a consumer you are covered by the Consumers Guarantees Act. In some cases it even covers you for more than the extended warranty some retailers try to sell you.

And if you have personal house and contents insurance it may already cover you for "accidental damage" to your goods. But you may have to check.

There may be some that are worth the money but check first, you may already be covered. And if you're not, your existing insurance company may extend your cover for far less than the retailer's policy costs.

The Consumer Magazine has written extensively about this, it's worth a read before you buy an extended warranty >>> https://www.consumer.org.nz/articles/consumer-guarantees-act

NB the Consumers Guarantees Act doesn't apply to business purchases.

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Decisions, Decisions

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You will make 10,000 decisions a day… How do you get the big ones right?

shockedfaceBelieve it or not you will make 10,000 decisions before you close your eyes for the day. That number comes to us from Noreena Hertz, an economist and author of Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World. Ms. Hertz explains that the choices we make in our daily lives range in importance from what to eat (227 decisions about food alone), to potentially life altering decisions.

Most of these choices are fairly easy and require no (or little) conscious thought.

But then we know that there are plenty of tough choices we have to make too, and the quality of those decisions dictates your course in life. Emotions, biases and distractions can easily cloud decision-making and cause you to make choices that may not be in your best overall interest.

And there is one thing that most of us will agree on: no matter what your own interests are in life, having money will help you achieve them.

To make sure that your financial decisions are as good as they can be, here is a decision-making framework you might find useful: