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Individual rights & freedoms

Changing your will


Can I change my will?

Wills Act 2007, ss 9, 15–17

Yes. You can revoke (cancel), change or add to your will at any time during your lifetime, as long as you are still of sound mind.

How do I change or cancel (“revoke”) my will?

Wills Act 2007, ss 15–17

The most common way to change your will is by making a supplementary will. This is known as a codicil (see “Some key legal words and what they mean” in this chapter). A codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a will. A codicil can vary or add to a will and is treated legally as part of the will.

You can also change your will by writing the changes on the will or by describing the changes in a note written on the will.

You can also revoke your will, or part of your will, by:

  • making a valid new will (it is best to include, in the new will, a clause stating that any previous will is revoked)
  • writing a document stating your intention to revoke the will in full or in part and having this document witnessed in the same manner as a will
  • getting married or entering a civil union (see below, “Do changes in my relationships affect the validity of my will?”)
  • destroying the will, or part of it, with the intention of revoking it.

When should I review my will?

It is a good idea to review your will regularly. You should also review your will if there are law changes affecting wills or if your circumstances change; for example, if you marry, separate, divorce or enter a civil union or de facto relationship (see below, “Do changes in my relationships affect the validity of my will?”), or if anyone named in your will dies.

Do changes in my relationships affect the validity of my will?

Wills Act 2007, s 18

Your will is automatically cancelled if you marry or enter a civil union, unless the will was made when you were planning the marriage or civil union and this has been specifically stated in the will or can be clearly shown in the circumstances.

If your marriage or civil union comes to an end, your will is only affected if you have a separation order or if your relationship is formally ended by a dissolution order (see the chapter “Relationships and break-ups”). A separation order or a dissolution order has the effect of revoking any provision made in your will in favour of your former spouse or civil union partner. In addition, if your former spouse or civil union partner is named as trustee or executor under your will, then this appointment is cancelled. The rest of your will remains valid and takes effect as if your former spouse or civil union partner had died immediately before you.

Wills Act 2007, s 19

If you and your partner are separated, but without a separation order or a dissolution order, your will continues to have its original effect unless you change it (see above, “How do I change or cancel (“revoke”) my will?”).

Unlike a marriage or a civil union, entering or ending a de facto relationship does not have any effect on your will, and the will continues to be current until you take steps to change it.

However, the relationship property laws provide for a surviving spouse, civil union partner or de facto partner to choose whether to apply for a division of relationship property under those laws, or to take instead what has been left to them under their deceased spouse or partner’s will or (if there’s no will) under the laws of intestacy (see in this chapter, “Relationship property laws and how they can affect wills”).

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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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