You may still have a claim even if you have been left out of a person’s Will, or you have not been provided what you expected or something you were promised.

Here are the ten most common ways people leave their Wills open to challenge.

  1. Where the deceased is your de facto partner you may bring a claim under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.
  2. Where the deceased is a close family member you may be entitled to make a claim under the Family Protection Act 1955, if adequate provision has not been made for your maintenance and support.
  3. Where the deceased has not kept a promise to reward you for services, you may have a claim for payment as a “Testamentary Promises” claim.
  4. Where the deceased is a close family member or de facto who has not left a Will at all (or the Will is invalid) you may have entitlement under the Administration Act.
  5. Where the process of making the Will involved some error, the Will may be invalid and the estate may be dealt with under different rules.
  6. Where the deceased had an interest in Māori land it may be possible to challenge how that land was dealt with under a Will if it is not dealt with in accordance with statutory guidelines.
  7. Where a person has made a Will when they were mentally incapable of understanding their decisions that Will may be challenged and replaced with an earlier Will.
  8. Where a person has made a Will in circumstances of undue influence, distress, or fraud, the Will may be challenged.
  9. Where the deceased created a reasonable expectation that you or another person would gain an interest in an asset to which you have contributed you may have a claim that a constructive trust in your favour should be recognised.
  10. Where the deceased has left a valid Will, but the terms contain a mistake or are open to different interpretations, then those terms of the Will may be challenged.

It is important to note that a claim must usually be made within 12 months of the Grant of Probate of a Will, but this can be extended by the Court in some cases.

No claims can be made if the estate has already been distributed, which an Executor can do if no claims have been made after six months of the granting of Probate.

There are important processes to be followed when challenging a Will. If you are confused about your options, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

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 and Hunter Flanagan-Connors