You need to know what to do …

We specialise in estates and Wills …

It can be devastating and unfair to be left out of a Will …

Every person making a Will has moral duties to those left behind to properly provide for them.  If they fail to properly provide for you as their spouse, partner, child or grandchild then the Court, in some circumstances, may make provision for you from the estate.  If you were promised something in return for work done you may   also be able to make a claim …

You need to know what the grounds are for challenging a Will or contesting the Estate.  You will also need to consider what the estate value is and how to go about lodging a challenge …

The first step we can take for you is to formally notify the estate that there will be a claim and obtain details of the estate’s value.  You can then decide if it is worth bringing a claim …

The next stage is to attempt to settle the claim without going to Court.  Many claims are settled with the help of a mediator and do not require a hearing in Court.  If a hearing is necessary you can rest easy knowing that your claim is backed by our very experienced team of lawyers preparing your case and guiding you throughout the process.

We also act for Estates who deal with claims against them and for the beneficiaries of estates whose entitlements might be challenged.

Call us for a relaxed friendly chat on 04 4736 850 or email us at


Challenging Wills – What you need to know...

The law provides for several ways in which loved ones’ Wills can be challenged when there are instances where a family member has not provided for you, or not provided adequately for you, in their Will. 

There are four main ways of challenging a Will under New Zealand law, which we explain below.

  • Challenging on the basis of the validity of the Will being in question;
  • Making a claim under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 – for spouses, de facto and civil union partners only;
  • Under the Family Protection Act 1955; and
  • Under the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949;



When someone has left a Will that is not signed, dated, or witnessed properly, their Will would most likely be deemed invalid. 

It is entirely possible that through an application to the Court, the Executor of a Will can have that Will made valid when the imperfections in the Will do not then affect the wishes of the Will-maker in terms of what they want done with their property. 

An application to the Court (usually the High Court) for a declaration that a Will is valid is the most likely type of application in this situation. 

If the Will is invalid for other reasons such as:

  • the Will-maker did not have mental capacity to make a Will at the time they made it,
  • if there is evidence that they were pressured into signing it by a family member who is set to benefit considerably,
  • if they changed their Will frequently before they died,
  • if there are elements of fraud (for example someone else has signed the Will on behalf of the Will-maker without the authority to do so, or the Will-maker’s signature is not their own and there is no explanation as to this),

then a Will could be declared invalid by the High Court. 

What would happen when that occurs is that the last previous Will of the Will-maker would be treated as the final Will, or if there is no previous Will, the property would be divided by the laws of intestacy. 


Claims under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976

If you are a surviving spouse, de facto partner, or civil union partner of the Will-maker at the time of their death, and you have been in a relationship with the Will-maker for three or more years, then you would be entitled to make a claim against the Will under the law.  In this instance your claim would be treated above all other claims that may have been made against the Will.

You have six months from the date of death, or the date of Probate of the Will, to choose whether or not you want to claim against the Estate, or whether you want to take what is given to you under the Will.

The option of taking what you will inherit instead of challenging is usually taken by surviving spouses, de facto partners, or civil union partners when relationship property is not being divided, or when they have simply just survived their spouse. 

All property of the Will-maker is deemed to be relationship property and potential entitlements could start at 50% of the entire property (including your own). 

On many occasions however most current spouses, de facto partners, or civil union partners are provided for in the Will, or are at least named Executors.  If you wish to make a claim and you are also an Executor you may need to stand down from your role as Executor if you are going to pursue the claim, to eliminate the obvious conflict involved.


Family Protection Act 1955 claims

Claims under the Family Protection Act are the most common types of claims against a Will.

People who can make these claims include children and grandchildren of the Will-maker, but also spouses, parents and grandparents (if they have been wholly or partially maintained by the Will-maker at the time of the Will-maker’s death).

Siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews cannot make a claim under this law.  Biological children who have been adopted can also not make a claim against their biological parents’ Estate.

The test for a successful claim is that the Will-maker owed a person a moral duty and the terms of that Will do not properly discharge that moral duty to that potential claimant. 

The Court can consider factors such as the size of the Estate, the nature of the relationship between the claimant and the Will-maker, the financial situations of the potential claimant  and other claimants (if any), and the strength of the moral duty owed by the Will-maker to the potential claimant.


Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act claim

If you have been promised certain property, cash, or chattels by a Will-maker and they have not provided for you under their Will, and that promise has been linked to work or favours that you have done for the Will-maker during their lifetime, then you may be eligible to make a claim against the Estate.

These types of claims are the rarest, and they are very hard to sustain.  A successful claim will show a connection by way of evidence of there being a promise made by the Will-maker to the potential claimant, evidence of that promise has not been fulfilled, and evidence that work or favours have been completed by the claimant for the Will-maker during their lifetime. 

Here at Rainey Collins, we will work closely with you to guide you through all aspects of the above potential challenges, whether you are an Executor, a Beneficiary under the Will, or a potential Claimant.