Derek, a citizen of the US, met Susan, from the UK, while they were both holidaying in New Zealand.  They loved the country and the lifestyle so much they decided that New Zealand was the place where they wanted to settle down and start their family.  The following year, they became proud parents to baby George.

With so much change happening in their lives, they couple realised one day that they probably needed to update their Wills.  Susan still had an active involvement in businesses in the UK and Derek had a son from a previous relationship, who lived mostly with Derek but visited his birth mother in the US.  They wondered whether these might be important considerations when drafting their new Wills.  They also had heard that their estates could be subject to hefty inheritance taxes in their home countries, and were concerned about this possibility.

There is a lot to think about when moving to a new country – buying a house, settling the kids into school, and getting used to all the local customs.  Updating a Will is not usually something at the forefront of anyone’s mind.

However, failing to think about the consequences for your estate could mean that your wishes are not carried out, or loved ones receive a reduced inheritance, if anything happens to you.

New Zealand may have different laws regarding succession and relationship property to your country of origin, which could mean that your property goes to different people than you intended.  This can sometimes mean expensive litigation for your family, which is not a legacy that anyone wants to leave their loved ones.

It is also very important to consider:

  • Whether you might need a will in both New Zealand and your home country;
  • Issues regarding guardianship for your children if you and the children’s other parent pass away – e.g. whether you wish the children to remain in New Zealand;
  • Estate duties in your country of origin, as these can significantly erode the inheritance available for your family.

These are all matters that will need to be worked through with advisers in your country of origin as well as the local lawyers updating your Will.

For people with ‘blended families’ or business interests, like Derek and Susan, it is particularly important to get specialist advice.

If you are a new migrant to New Zealand and would like advice about updating your Will, please contact us on  (04) 473 6850.