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Individual rights & freedoms

Challenges to your will after you die


There are several ways your will can be challenged and a number of people who can challenge it.

  • Invalid wills – The legal validity of a will can be challenged if, for example, it wasn’t made and witnessed in the proper way (see “Challenges to the legal validity of a will” in this section). However, if there’s no dispute about the legal validity of a will, it may still be possible to challenge it in one of the following three ways.
  • Family Protection Act 1955 – A family member can challenge a will under the Act on the grounds that they were not provided for adequately in the will (see “Claims by family members under the Family Protection Act” in this section).
  • Testamentary promises – If you broke a promise to provide for someone in your will, in return for work or services that they provided, that person can apply to the courts under the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949 (see “Promises you made during your lifetime” in this section).
  • Relationship property – Your spouse or partner can apply under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 to receive half of the relationship property if they are not satisfied with what they have been left under your will (see “Relationship property laws and how they can affect wills” in this section).

All of these (apart from questioning the validity of a will) apply also if there is no will.

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Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

New Zealand Law Society



Making a will and estate administration

Dividing up relationship property.

Access pamphlets online or order hardcopies from the New Zealand Law Society.

Phone: (04) 472 7837
Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

Ministry of Justice


This webpage provides some useful information and links on the more technical legal side of getting a copy of a will when a relative has died.

Māori Land Succession


This gives information on how Māori land is dealt with, including how land is dealt with after an owner has passed away.

Public Trust


Phone: 0800 371 471
The Public Trust gives information about things to consider when making a will, setting things up, choosing an executor and estate administration. Facilities are also available for making a will online. You can call them or visit their website to fill out an enquiry form.

Consumer NZ


The Consumer NZ website contains good information about wills, including the legal requirements for making a will, and what it’s likely to cost to administer after a person dies.

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