In theory, when you make a will, you get to choose how to distribute your assets after your death. However, in reality, wills can be challenged. Under New Zealand law there are four primary ways in which a will can be challenged:
- If a family member (usually a child) is not provided for they may bring a claim under the Family Protection Act 1955 to provide for that person.
- If there is a question as to whether the will was validly executed a claim can be brought to void the will. This could be on the grounds the will was not correctly witnessed, the person who made the will did not have mental capacity at the time they signed, or someone was exercising undue influence so as to overpower that person.
- If someone is in a relationship but does not provide for their partner or spouse then a claim may be brought under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 to have the relationship property divided between the parties.
- If a promise was given to someone in return for services, that person may make a claim if adequate provision is not provided to them under the will.
The best way to reduce the risk of a claim is by getting informed advice so that you know your legal position. At Lyon O'Neale Arnold Lawyers we understand that everyone's circumstances are different and can tailor our advice to your specific needs.