The proposed changes as to how family members can inherit their loved ones’ assets have now been provided to the Government to consider.  This is an area of law that affects most New Zealanders and will impact on families. It is expected to be the biggest change in inheritance law in over 65 years.

The current laws that determine the provision of inheritances are many decades old and do not reflect the make-up of society and the way families are structured today. 

Some of the Law Commission’s major recommendations include:

  1.         Introducing a new piece of law, suggested to be named the Inheritance (Claims Against Estates) Act,                to be the principal law regarding all claims to Estates. Currently there are 3 major pieces of law that                  can govern the inheritance of Estates.
  2.         Continuing the surviving partner or spouse’s rights to a division of relationship property when their                    partner dies (so long as they have been in a relationship with the deceased for 3 or more years);
  3.         Revising the rules for how an Estate should be distributed when somebody does not have a Will;
  4.         Clarifying when certain family members can claim further property from the Estate despite what the Will          says;
  5.         Providing that Tikanga Māori should determine succession to taonga;
  6.         Allowing the Court to recover property when it has passed from the deceased to a third party in a way              that leaves the Estate without enough property to meet any Court decisions made against it; and
  7.         Providing a platform for efficient and effective dispute resolution, both in and out of Court.

We will aim to provide updates on these matters as things develop.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Shaun Cousins