Wills can become invalid

Wills can become invalid

02 December 2014

A number of things can make a will, or parts of it, invalid, the New Zealand Law Society advises.

In its free guide Making a Will and Estate Administration, the Law Society says parts of a will may be invalid if they are meaningless, ambiguous or uncertain.

"However, the court can use external evidence, including evidence of the will-maker's testamentary intentions, to interpret words in a will to determine their meaning."

Other matters which can make a will or part of a will invalid include:

  • If you have married, entered a civil union or ended a marriage with a court order since the will was made.
  • If the will is not signed and witnessed properly.
  • If there was some undue pressure or influence on you to dispose of your property in a certain way.
  • If you were not of sound mind or were under-age when you made the will.
  • If it is not clear that you approved a gift to a witness (or spouse or partner of a witness).

The Law Society says if the person who made the will did not sign it or if mistakes were made in the witnessing of the will, the court can still declare it is valid if it considers that the document expresses the will maker's testamentary intentions. However, this power can only be used in respect of wills made after 1 November 2007.

The Law Society recommends regular review of wills, possibly every five years. Wills should also be reviewed when circumstances change through marriage, entry into a civil union or de factor relationship or when such a relationship ends. 

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