New Zealand Law Society - Nevill’s Will Drafting Handbook, 7th Edition

Nevill’s Will Drafting Handbook, 7th Edition

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Reviewed by Jacintha Atkinson

Nevill’s Will Drafting Handbook (7th edition) updates practitioners on developments since the 6th edition, which was published in 2011. This book is written by Sarah Parsons and Nicky Richardson who are both lawyers (albeit Nicky is now retired), so it is practical and designed to be the “go to” book for all practitioners when drafting wills for clients. The law stated in this edition is as at 30 April 2015.

Since the first edition was published in 1948, this book has always been intended to be used on a day-to-day basis by practitioners who take instructions to draft wills. It is designed to be practical and provide guidance around the wording of clauses, and is not intended to give commentary or case law. The idea is that the book can provide up-to-date precedents to be used in a will document, and it also comes with a CD-ROM to allow you to have an electronic database of up-to-date will precedents.

The purpose of this book is to ensure any legislative changes to the Wills Act 2007, along with any anticipated changes, are taken into consideration when providing precedents for practitioners to use when drafting wills. One of the biggest changes envisaged in this area relates to the findings from the Minister of Senior Citizens report regarding the 2007 Amendments specific to Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPOAs). The chapters around EPOAs have therefore been retained in this edition as often these documents are drafted at the same time as a will.

The book has a detailed Table of Contents, along with a Table of Cases, Statutes and then a Table of Forms and Precedents. As mentioned above, all sample clauses and sample wills are included on a CD-ROM, and correspond to the paragraph numbering used in the book.

The book is split into seven chapters. The first three relate to wills and cover ‘Interviewing the Will-maker’, ‘Making the Will’, and ‘Opening Clauses and the Formal Elements of a Will’. Chapters four to six relate to Enduring Powers of Attorney and include tips on ‘Interviewing the Donor’ and a section containing ‘Special Clauses’.

If I was to use this resource to draft a will, my personal preference would be to start with the Table of Forms and Precedents. From that list I can scroll down and quite quickly find the scenario for which I am wanting the wording of a specific clause. For example, if I am looking for an ‘Appointment of Guardians’ clause, I can scroll down, see that I need to go to Chapter Three – clause 3.6. The only negative to finding a precedent clause this way is that there is no quick reference to which page number in the book I then need to go to. However, some clause numbers are printed at the top of each page, so it didn’t take too long for me to find the page I required.

Clause 3.6 then gave me three options for guardian clauses, and I could directly copy the appropriate wording into my will. The footnote on the first option also helpfully referred me to s 26 of the Care of Children Act 2004. I then obtained a copy of that section on “Testamentary Guardians” and could then incorporate that legislation into my explanation to a client in regards to how testamentary guardians and the Family Court system all interplay.

The book also has helpful suggestions along the way as to any other tweaks which may be applicable depending on the situation. The biggest message I got from this book, is to ensure the final draft will is read over and to ensure the clauses used are appropriate and tweaked (if necessary) to cover the specific scenario for that client. The very nature of copying and pasting precedents can lead to carelessness, so a high level of care is required when drafting such important documents.

Overall, this book and CD-ROM are immensely helpful for all practitioners who are taking instructions from clients and drafting both wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney. This is a must-have for all law offices and you might find yourselves fighting over who gets to keep it in whose office. I know I’ll be holding onto my copy very tightly!

Jacintha Atkinson is an associate solicitor with Nelson law firm Richmond Law. She is experienced in advising on property and commercial law matters and wills, trusts and powers of attorney.

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