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New Zealand - Wills

It is recommended that an expat makes a will when they move to New Zealand even if they already have a will in their country of origin. It can be a time consuming and costly process to valid a foreign will in another country, so separate wills can make the process of probate easier. There is not a great deal of difference between a will in New Zealand and a will in the UK or the US. It should contain all the essential information such as arrangements for paying any outstanding debts, any gifts or legacies to charities or individuals, details of guardianship for any dependents aged under 18, details of the funeral and naming an executor to carry out the wishes of the deceased. The beneficiaries in the will should be clearly identified with full names and details of how they are connected to you.

Wills should be witnessed by 2 people. These witnesses must be over the age of 18 and should witness your signature. They also need to witness the document while you are there and the will should state that this has been the case. A witness cannot be your executor or any beneficiary that is named in the document. It is not permitted to make alterations to the original document but you are permitted to add a codicil to the will for any minor changes. Major changes should warrant the creation of a new will.

In New Zealand it is possible to make a will online via the Public Trust. There are also a number of law firms which allow this service too. Often you are able to make a will free of charge if you appoint the lawyer as the executor of the will.

The requirements for a valid will in New Zealand include putting the will in writing. Simply telling a family member your wishes will not be considered legally binding. It must be signed by you and the two witnesses and you must declare that it is your intention for this to be your last will and testament. If you have made a verbal promise to remember somebody in your will then do not do so, they may have a claim against your estate as there is a piece of legislation in New Zealand which allows for this. It is also very hard to cut a child out of a will, even if you have been estranged for many years, as the New Zealand courts look favourably on claims against wills from children unless there are extreme circumstances.

In New Zealand a will that has not been drawn up properly can cause problems when it comes to the time for implementing it. You should ensure that all of your property is mentioned in the will with clear instructions on how it is to be divided. It should also be noted that if a house or other residence is in the name of the deceased only then the will needs to go to the High Court in order to be transferred to the next owner. This is time consuming and can be expensive. If the house is to be left to a spouse it is easier to put the house in joint names to begin with as it will automatically pass on.

Useful Resources

Public Trust
Tel: 0800 371 471 (from New Zealand)
Tel: +64 3 977 7956 (from overseas)
Email: info@publictrust.co.nz

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.