Your Will is Law


Legal tip of the week provided by Auckland Lawyer, Ian Mellett.  Ian is the principal of Quay Law Barrister and Solicitors.  Quay Law is located in Remuera, Auckland. 


Dying intestate can be costly.

If you die without a will or your will is deemed to be invalid, then you are said to have died intestate. In this event, administration of your estate is entirely determined by legislation and not you. Your wishes are not relevant.


We recommend that you review your Will regularly. By way of example. Some wills include specific bequests to particular heirs e.g. my house (address) to “A” and my shares (company name) to “B”. Do you still own that house at that address and those shares in that company?

Please find below a recent article as published in the New Zealand Herald

Source: NZ Herald

Reporter Rachel Tiffen

A bitter dispute has developed over the will and $2 million fortune of slain undercover police officer Don Wilkinson.

His adoptive father, Ron Wilkinson, has been left everything – leaving his mother, Bev Lawrie, without a penny.

The parents have been separated since 1983.

In a North & South magazine article published today, Ms Lawrie and other family members and friends say Don Wilkinson and his mother were close, and he would not have wanted her left with nothing.

Don Wilkinson wrote his will at a Public Trust office in Christchurch in September 1985, when he was 23, before going to work in Antarctica.

Then, his assets were two guitars and a second-hand car.

Two simple lines bequeathed “the whole of my estate both real and personal” to Ronald Charles Wilkinson.

But Don Wilkinson was a frugal, single man with no children, and by the time he was killed, his estate had grown to $2 million.

This included his $900,000 property at Helensville, north-west of Auckland, $70,000 in cash, some investments and a six-figure payment from police insurance and superannuation.

Lawyers say nothing can be done now. Under the Family Protection Act, potential claimants have 12 months after a will is probated to bring a claim.

But Ms Lawrie said she spent the year after her son’s death trying to survive – mourning him, weathering publicity and dealing with the killer’s arrest.

Don Wilkinson was killed two years ago when he was chased and shot down bysuspected P dealer John Skinner in Mangere East.

Mr Wilkinson had been trying to attach a tracking device to Skinner’s vehicle.

Skinner was jailed for at least 15 years for murder; his friend Iain Clegg received a minimum four years for manslaughter.

Ron Wilkinson told North & South his adopted son made a choice.

“Don was a 47-year-old police officer, not a 15-year-old handicapped child. He left a will and it was adhered to.”

He has reportedly refused to respond to a lawyer’s request or the family’s plea for mediation.

Yesterday, Ms Lawrie said it was an insult to her son’s memory.

“Don would be horrified, he’d just be absolutely horrified,” she said. “It [the will] was just slapdash because he was off on a big adventure …”

She said efforts to talk to her ex-husband had fallen on deaf ears.

“If it had been me, I’d have given him half of whatever.”

Ms Lawrie, 69, owns a freehold home in Oamaru, surviving on a pension and the odd day relief teaching.

She hasn’t paid her rates since her son’s death – she says he always paid them.

Ms Lawrie said her son’s friends text and phone her often, affectionately calling her “Ma Bev”.

“They have been absolutely wonderful,” she said. “I get a text saying ‘Hi Ma Bev how are you?”…”