Less than half of adult Kiwis have a will, according to new research from the Commission for Financial Capability.
In a survey of 2000 New Zealanders aged 18 and over by the commission, 47 per cent had a will.
For women surveyed, 44 per cent had wills, and for men, 51 per cent.
Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell said it was important all adults had wills regardless of their wealth, or if they have children or own a home.
“The risk for people if they do die without a will is that there can be a lot of fighting after they’re gone, it can take your family a lot of time to apply to get your estates sorted,” she said.
Ms Maxwell said with an increase in blended families, wills were more necessary than ever.
Wills outline who should receive the possessions of someone after they die.
But it’s about more than assets, also including the person’s wishes for child custody and pet care, if applicable, along with funeral arrangements and where you want to be buried.
Ms Maxwell said there’s multiple reasons why adults might not have a will.
“I think maybe we get a little superstitious, I think sometimes we just don’t get round to it.”
The Commission for Financial Capability’s community programme leader Peter Cordtz said Kiwis are not good at talking about money, and this issue increases for the Māori community, as well as Pasifika.
The survey showed just one fifth of Pasifika people have a will, while this rose slightly to one quarter for the Asian community and 31 per cent of Māori.
“Part of that is not wanting to invite death into your home but I think for Pacific and Maori, there’s an overlay of collectivism,” Mr Cordtz said.
Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell said whether people are writing their own will, paying for legal services or taking up a free promotion, thoroughness is vital.
“You need to make sure it’s watertight. You need to make sure it’s signed and you need to make sure you’ve gone through a good process,” she said.
She said while the cost of around several hundred dollars for a basic will through a lawyer may put some people off, it’s about making an investment to help your family in the future.
It’s also important wills are checked every few years to ensure they are still relevant to the person’s situation and assets, Ms Maxwell said.