The Relationship Property Act 1976 ("the Act") was amended in 2002 to include provisions that may apply when a relationship ends by the death of one of the parties. The surviving partner can elect whether to claim against the estate of the deceased or receive under the deceased's Will.

If the first option is chosen then the Act provides that the surviving partner will, in many cases, receive half of the relationship property unless there is evidence to the contrary.

In choosing to make a claim under the Act, the surviving spouse's entitlement effectively overrides the wishes of the deceased person. The claim under the Act also takes priority over other claims against the estate, for example those made under the Family Protection Act 1955.

Any person making a Will therefore needs to be aware of the options their surviving partner has under the Act and to plan accordingly.

For further advice on Wills and Estate Planning, please contact John Stirling or Raechel Pedrotti of this office.

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Published: Thu, Jun 1st, 2006

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