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Financial planning for your retirement

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If you are retired or nearing retirement it’s important to think about your financial estate planning so your assets go where you want them to after you have passed away.

Wills
If you have assets, you need a Will. Dying without a Will is termed “intestate”. This means that instead of you deciding who should inherit your assets, your estate will be dealt with by the “rules of intestacy”, and the law will determine who receives your assets.

If you own joint assets (e.g. with your spouse), on the death of the first spouse, the assets will automatically go to the surviving spouse/partner. This applies irrespective of what you have said in your Will about where you would like the assets to go.

There is a common misconception that on death, Kiwisaver funds automatically pass to your surviving spouse/partner. This is not so. The Kiwisaver funds will be distributed as per your Will, or under the rules of intestacy if you don’t have a Will.

Enduring Powers of Attorney
Enduring Powers of Attorney appoint another person (an Attorney) to make decisions for you, if you no longer have mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.

There are two types of Enduring Powers of Attorney – one for your Property (bank accounts, land, shares etc.) and one for your Personal Care and Welfare (medical treatment and aged care decisions etc.).  Enduring Powers of Attorney are essential. If you can’t make decisions for yourself, and you don’t have any Enduring Powers of Attorney in place, someone will need to apply to the Family Court to be appointed as your Attorney.  This can be costly, time consuming, and often very stressful for families, particularly if a home needs to be sold urgently.

Trusts
Trusts are a popular structure in estate planning. If you have a Family Trust, it’s important to review this regularly, and consider:

• the reason the Trust was originally formed, and whether the Trust still has a purpose;

• ensuring the Trust’s Memorandum of Guidance is current and states what should happen with the Trust fund after your death;

• the new rules around Trusts and Residential Care Subsidies.

Structuring assets can be complex and very personal. You should take professional advice. Our team can help you work out the structure of asset ownership that best suits you and your family.

Norris Ward McKinnon
Web: www.nwm.co.nz
Email: lawyers@nwm.co.nz
Phone  07 834 6000

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