A woman who delayed bringing a claim on her deceased de-facto partner’s estate has lost her court case for a share in the estate.

The woman’s partner died in August 2014 and Administration of his estate was granted in November 2015. 

An arrangement as to dividing the deceased man’s estate was entered into in October 2016 between the man’s children, from his first wife and from his second wife. 

Division of these assets were dealt with by way of the Deed signed by the children. The de-facto spouse was not involved in this arrangement and she delayed applying for a share of relationship property until November 2017. 

When a partner or spouse passes away the surviving spouse can make a decision to either take what is given under the Will or to apply through the Family Court to divide relationship property. 

This application must be made within 12 months of the date of the Court granting Administration or Probate, and the decision as to which process to use must be made in writing within the first 6 months after Administration or Probate is granted.

The Court rejected her claim for two reasons.  Firstly, she failed to make a decision within six months after the date of her partner’s death, and she failed to make an application to either the Family Court or the High Court for a division of the estate within 12 months of Administration of her partner’s estate.

Secondly, she failed because the estate had already been distributed some two years after the man died, when his children entered into the Deed.  The Court could not or would not undo any final distribution of the estate.

This shows the importance of acting quickly and efficiently to take legal advice if you find yourself in a position where your partner or spouse has not left a will, or Probate or Administration has been granted and you are not satisfied with the provisions made for you under the Will or Administration.

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




Shaun Cousins
Family Lawyer
Wellington