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Wills, Estates and Trusts

Wills, Estates and Trusts

Wills, Estates and Trusts

A wills, estates and trusts lawyer is expected to guide their clients through the potential issues and litigation that can arise.

With a strong focus on practical learning, will give you the skills to manage the everyday issues you are likely to encounter working in wills, estates and trusts.




WEP1NZ Foundations of Wills and Estates Practice

This introductory practice-based LLM subject advances on your foundational knowledge towards specialised and integrated understandings about Wills, Estates and Trusts Practice within the New Zealand legal context.

The course aims to provide you with a clear understanding of the fundamental principles of the law relating to Wills, Estates and Trusts Practice. It focuses on the practical application of this knowledge from the perspective of advising a client in relation to estate planning and asset protection. It covers the legislative and case law requirements governing the applicable structures including the skills of drafting valid deeds, wills and other documentation. It provides an introduction to a solicitor’s obligations when administering a trust or an estate and also provides an awareness of current developments in the law.

Topics include:
  • estate and asset planning
  • drafting wills
  • estate administration
  • trusts
  • discretionary family trusts, and
  • the relationship between trustees and beneficiaries and developing law of trusts.
WEP2NZ Law and Practice of Estates

This subject covers the legal procedures and principles involved in the administration of a deceased person's estate in New Zealand. It identifies and enables you to apply the legislative provisions and key common/case law applying to testate (will) and intestate (no will) estates. It covers the procedural steps for obtaining uncontested grants of probate and letters of administration, including taking client instructions and providing appropriate advice to the client. You will learn how to draft applications for grants of probate when the deceased has left a valid will, and letters of administration, where there is no will, as well as how to administer assets and wind up the estate.

Specifically the subject will look at:
  • the relevant law governing estate administration
  • intestacy - where there is no will
  • administration without a grant and small estates
  • applying for grants of probate and letters of administration
  • asset collection, payment of debts and distribution
  • duties and liabilities of legal personal representatives and rights of beneficiaries
  • taxation, and estate accounts and commission, and
  • costing estate matters.
WEP3NZ Construing and Drafting Wills

This subject is designed to enable you to identify, analyse and apply the principles and rules relating to the construction of wills, especially as they relate to potentially contested estates. It will enable you to construe wills and advise clients on complex issues arising from wills, as well as to further enhance your skills in drafting more challenging will provisions.

Topics include:
  • validating, construing and correcting wills – the role of the high court
  • construction of wills applications
  • general principles and specific rules of construction
  • admissibility of evidence in the construction of a will
  • construing gifts
  • equitable doctrines in the construction of a will
  • lapse of gifts
  • issues in advising on estate planning
  • drafting issues – testamentary trusts, and
  • drafting issues – blended families and vulnerable beneficiaries.
WEP4NZ Statutory mechanisms for Family Protection

This practice-based LLM subject advances on students’ knowledge towards specialised and integrated understandings about statutory mechanisms for Family Protection.

  • The history and role of family protection legislation

  • The family protection legislative framework, including
    • The Family Protection Act 1955
    • The Property (Relationships) Act 1976
    • The Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949.

  • In relation to the legislative framework:
    • eligibility to make an application
    • the relevance of a moral duty
    • the approach of the court to different categories of applicant, and
    • matters which the court may consider

  • commencing proceedings
  • types of orders
  • special and complex issues
  • mediation of proceedings, and
  • the conduct of the hearing.
WEP5NZ Contested probate and other court applications

This subject enables students to understand and apply the principles in relation to a range of issues which arise in contested and special grants.

It covers the procedures and evidence required for a grant in solemn form, interim and limited grants, revocation of grants, informal and lost wills, assessment of testamentary capacity and the payment of debts and the passing of property. It also deals with costs and estate accounts and commission.

  • Preventing others from obtaining grants
  • Obtaining a grant in solemn form
  • Interim and limited grants
  • Revocation of a grant
  • Proving an informal will
  • Proving a lost will
  • Issues with testamentary capacity, undue influence and fraud.
  • Costs
  • Authority of the legal personal representative
  • Payment of debts and passing of property
  • Accounts and commission
WEP6NZ Advanced issues in Wills and Estates

This subject focuses on a series of advanced issues in wills and estates practice and administration, which are less often encountered in practice. It also provides students with the opportunity to provide client advice on these issues and draft the documentation required.

  • Testamentary sucession
  • Testamentary contracts
  • Estoppel and will making
  • Testamentary trusts
  • Particular types of gifts
WEP7NZ Elder Law

This subject advances on your knowledge towards specialised and integrated understandings about Elder Law.

By the end of this subject you will:

  • understand and evaluate the range of legal issues relating to the elderly
  • distinguish the various forms of accommodation for the elderly and assess the advantages and disadvantage of each
  • understand the nature of the discrimination against and abuse of the elderly and the applicable law
  • comprehend the access of the elderly to carers and the benefits involved
  • advise clients on financial planning issues relating to estates within the limitations set for legal practitioners who are not qualified financial advisers
  • understand the income support entitlements for the elderly
  • comprehend the legal nature of the medical and health care issues relating to the elderly and the relevant legislative provisions, and
  • advise the elderly and/or their carers on the relevant issues relating to incapacity and disability, including the management of their estates research the range of the benefits for the support of the elderly in order to advise an elderly client and/or carer.
WEP00NZ Capstone – Wills, Estates & Trusts

The Capstone Project is taken as the final subject in a major. Drawing from the skills and knowledge you have acquired throughout the program, the Capstone Project will challenge you to integrate these skills and apply them effectively to sophisticated and realistic legal scenarios. There is a strong focus on practical experience and active learning; your performance throughout the subject will be continuously evaluated through a series of assessments.


These Applied Law programmes are delivered by The College of Law Limited in Australia which is a self-accrediting Higher Education Provider within the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) regulatory framework. The programmes are fully compliant with the Australian Qualifications Framework at Masters level. The College has delivered these programmes for over 10 years and is now the second largest provider of LLM qualifications in Australia.

It should be noted that these Applied Law programmes are not accredited by the NZQA.