What happens to your KiwiSaver money when you die?

We know you’re not planning to die any time soon, but do you know what would happen to your KiwiSaver money if you do?

Does the government get it? Or your partner? Or does some of the money go back to your employer?

If you feel confused about what happens, you’re not the only one.

A study of 1000 people by Westpac NZ in 2017 showed 35 per cent didn’t know what would happen to their KiwiSaver money after they died. Six per cent thought it went back to the government.

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What happens to your KiwiSaver money when you die?
The answer is: it goes to your estate, the pool of your assets, when you die.

“KiwiSaver is a large part of many people’s estates these days, and probably will become increasingly so over time,” says Juliet Moses, a partner at TGT Legal.

“So, it is important to think about what you would want to happen with your KiwiSaver money when you die,” Moses says.

It’s important to have a will
“If you do want something specific to happen to your KiwiSaver money, which I’m sure many people do, it would absolutely make sense to have a will to put those instructions in place,” Moses says.

“A will is the best way to ensure your KiwiSaver money goes where you want it.”

If you die without a will, when you die your assets and possessions are left for legislation to process. This is referred to as dying in “intestate”, and can be a lengthy (and perhaps costly) legal process for your family, and could involve the High Court.

This can be a stressful process for your family while they are grieving. 

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What if I don’t have a large KiwiSaver balance?
If you die without a will, and the total value of your estate is under $15,000, Citizens Advice Bureau says your next of kin can take the role of administrator without having to apply to the High Court.

However, with the average KiwiSaver balance around $26
,000 (FMA KiwiSaver Annual Report 2021), this means most people will have an estate worth more than $15,000. And for many, KiwiSaver will only form part of total assets.

A will can also help with dividing up personal items, so it’s still recommended even if you don’t have large assets. It’s your way of confirming what happens to your assets, no matter how big or small, after you are gone. A will helps sort your KiwiSaver money when you die.

It’s a great idea to review your will annually or when your circumstances change, for example when a relationship changes.

How to get a will
You can contact a lawyer, Public Trust, Citizens Advice Bureau, or the New Zealand Law Society for information and advice about getting a will.

Wills don’t have to be expensive, and it might pay to shop around. Asking family and friends who organised their will might help too.

Always include in your will who your KiwiSaver provider is, and let a close family member or friend know as well. This will help sort your KiwiSaver money when you die.

In summary
What happens to your KiwiSaver money when you die? Either it will be sorted in accordance to your will, or if you don’t have a will then it’s left to legislation to process.

The best thing you can do right now is tell your next of kin or another trusted person who your KiwiSaver provider is. If you don’t know this, find out by logging into myIR account or contact IRD.

Then the next step. If you already have a will, take time to review it annually, or when your circumstances change. If you don’t have a will, now’s a great time to put things in motion and get one. This will make sure your KiwiSaver money (and other assets) are divided up in accordance with your wishes, instead of being delegated by the courts. 

Sources: Westpac study

Citizens Advice Bureau article one and article two.

Published October 2018, updated September 2021

Information correct as at October 2021. Pie Funds Management Limited is the issuer and manager of the JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme. Click here for our Product Disclosure Statement. Any advice is given by Pie Funds Management Limited, and is general only. It relates only to the specific financial products mentioned and does not account for personal circumstances or financial goals. Please see a financial adviser for tailored advice. You may have to pay product or other fees if you act on any advice. As manager of the Scheme we receive monthly fees that are determined by your balance and whether you are 13 years or over. We will benefit financially if you invest in our products. We manage any conflicts of interest via an internal compliance framework designed to ensure we meet our duties to you. For information about the advice we can provide, our duties and complaint process and how disputes can be resolved, visit www.junokiwisaver.co.nz. All content is correct at time of publication date, unless otherwise indicated. Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. Returns can be negative as well as positive and returns over different periods may vary. Please let us know if you would like a hard copy of this disclosure information.