We suspect that most New Zealanders are unaware of the law that applies when a partner dies.
Many people might think that the deceased’s property will be distributed according to the will and there is no other option.
When people write wills they might not know that their partner can decide whether to follow the will or instead divide their property under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.
Even if people know about the law, they might not understand it because it is complex. For people making wills, it can be difficult to work out what will happen to the property if the surviving partner chooses to divide it under the Act rather than through a will. It can be unclear what it would mean for the deceased’s will and for other family members.
For surviving partners, it can be hard to work out what property they will get if they choose to divide the couple’s property or if they choose the will.