Law Commission reviews succession law

by Sol Dolor11 Jan 2020

The Law Commission has officially started its review of New Zealand’s succession law.

The commission said it will consider who should be entitled to inherit a person’s property when they die. The review includes looking into the rules that apply when someone dies without a will. It will also tackle the rights of surviving partners, children, and other family members, particularly if those parties think they have not been properly provided for in a certain will, the commission said.

"This is an important project. We will all be affected by succession law at some point in our lives,” said Helen McQueen, deputy president. “Some of the law in this area hasn’t been reviewed in decades. Over this time New Zealand has undergone  significant social change, affecting the relationships we enter, the property we own and what we think family means. The law may not have kept pace with these changes and the reasonable expectations of New Zealanders.”

The lead commissioner of the review said that the Law Commission will be asking the following fundamental questions.

“How important is it that someone’s will is followed? Should family members be able to claim more property than the will gives them? How should the law apply to diverse family arrangements, such as second relationships and step-families? How should property be divided if there is no will?” she said.

New Zealanders will be able to share their views on succession law during the public consultation process, which the commission will hold this year. No particular dates have been set for the consultations, however.

The commission expects to pass on its recommendations to the government by the end of next year.