Drafting a will is one of the most important tasks you should accomplish in your lifetime. Your will is literally your last will and testament--your last wishes--to be carried out upon your death. While hiring a lawyer to draft your will is always a good option, you have the ability to draft your own. Drafting a will in New Zealand (NZ) is similar to drafting a will in the United States.
New Zealand Will Requirements
Before drafting your will, take a moment and learn the New Zealand will requirements. You should become as familiar with these requirements before drafting your will; if you do not follow the requirements, your last wishes may not be followed.
In New Zealand, as in the United States, the will should be in writing. This seems obvious, but instances do arise whereby one party verbally promises the other party something after they die. If this happens, the promise may not be upheld if it is not in writing. Always put your wishes in your will in writing. Second, the will must be signed by you, the testator. New Zealand law requires you to sign the will "at the end." This is important because if you sign the will and then add more writing after your signature, the writing after your signature may not be considered part of your will. The best advice if you have to do this is to start over and draft a new will, revoking the prior will explicitly. Finally, the will must be signed by two witnesses. This final requirement does not need to occur until after the will is drafted.
Considerations for Your Will
Once you know the will requirements, you can draft your will. Use language that is clear and unambiguous. Describe each gift as clearly as you can and leave nothing to interpretation. While no "magic words" are required for your will (you simply must intend the document to be your will and writing "this is my last will and testament" will usually suffice), choose your words and sentences carefully.
In drafting your will, think carefully about who your beneficiaries will be. Beneficiaries are those people who will receive gifts from your will. Think about your property and debts; your will is the document that is going to put your personal effects into order so you need to know the extent of your assets and debts to write a comprehensive will. Two other important considerations include appointing an executor (someone to probate the estate for you). The executor can be anyone you trust to follow the will and carry out your instructions; a close friend or your spouse will suffice. Last, think about whether you want to make any charitable donations.
Once you have written down how you want your estate to pass when you die, sign the will, date it and have it signed by two witnesses. Remember to update the will every five to 10 years or after big changes in your life (such as death in the family or divorce).