Public Trust has been helping Bay of Plenty locals for over 130 years, and the number of people in the region getting their will in place has increased 146 per cent in the last three years.
The growth in Tauranga is largely attributed to the introduction of Public Trust's online platform, which offers a lower price point and digital trustees on hand to help at every step of the way with writing online wills and enduring powers of attorney.
The Tauranga Customer Centre is also a popular choice for people who prefer in-person options, and customers can also complete them over the phone.
In the last 50 years since 1973, Bay of Plenty locals have completed over 20,000 wills and 14,000 EPAs with Public Trust. Nationally, Public Trust is celebrating 150 years of helping Kiwis.
Tauranga Customer Centre principal trustee Margaret Burt is helping spread the word in the Bay of Plenty about why it's so important to have these legal documents in place.
'Dying without a will (also known as dying intestate) can create stress for family and friends left behind, as well as take more time and money to sort out an estate. There is a legal process for determining the beneficiaries, and the result may not be what the person who died wanted.
'One example I have seen recently is where a person died, and they had no will in place and did not leave any instructions.
'This has put a huge responsibility on the person's sibling, who is now sorting everything with our help. It's tough on them because they don't know what their sibling's wishes were.”
This can be an additional burden while you're grieving, explains Margaret.
About half of Kiwis have a will in place and it's one of Public Trust's goals to significantly increase this figure, something Burt fully supports.
'If you don't have a will in place, you're not in control of who benefits from your estate.”
EPAs are also important documents, says Margaret.
'If you've got an enduring power of attorney in place, you've got someone looking after you who should have your best interests at heart, someone who can fight for you and be in your corner.”
There are two types of EPA – one for personal welfare and one for financial and property matters.
Public Trust chief executive Glenys Talivai says the Tauranga Customer Centre plays a vital role in supporting people in the community to complete these important documents, especially those who are most vulnerable.
The Tauranga Customer Centre has completed thousands of wills and EPAs for customers in the region, she says.
'I am so proud of Public Trust's presence in the Bay of Plenty for so many years.
'Wills and EPAs are such important life documents. Wills help ensure the things that matter most to you go to the people who matter, and EPAs let you nominate someone to make decisions on your behalf when you're unable to. These two documents form a key part of planning for the future,” says Glenys.
She says all Public Trust's channels (online, call centre) have a role to play in helping locals create wills and EPAs, but customer centres like Tauranga provide unique face-to-face support and advice.
'Our trustees can be an empathetic and compassionate ear when our customers are dealing with individual or unique circumstances. Trustees build up relationships with individuals and their families that can carry on through generations. These relationships are so important.”