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Administration of Intestate Estates

The administration of an estate can be complicated when the deceased dies intestate leaving a partner or spouse.

The difficulty arising in part also from the interplay of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and the Administration Act 1969.

A surviving spouse or partner who has not applied for Letters of Administration can lodge a caveat against an application made by somebody else.  Where this happens an order nisi can be granted under s 61(a)(ii) of the Administration Act.  This allows the caveator time to demonstrate why an order  should not be made.

The grounds for a surviving spouse or partner arise from s 77 of the Administration Act, which determines who can share in a deceased estate.  However, care is required to also consider s 77B, which restricts the circumstances in which a surviving de facto partner can take on intestacy where the relationship was of short duration (less than 3 years).

Another consideration where there is a qualifying relationship is whether the survivor wishes to share on the intestacy or elect to have their entitlement determined under the  Property (Relationships) Act. See s 61 of that Act regarding the ability to make an election.

References:

Estate of Keriana Hara Lucinda Lorrain Whati [2015] NZHC 3243

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