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Trust and Estate Disputes

Disputes over estates and entitlements from trusts are common. 

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We can advise on challenging a Will or any other dispute arising from an estate or relating to a trust. We are committed to ensuring our clients understand what they are entitled to under the law, and that the outcome of the dispute is fair.

We understand that any dispute process can be difficult, and when it relates to family the stress can be further heightened. Our team will advocate for you while keeping a firm handle on what is fair under the law.

Our disputes team is highly experienced in all aspects of family and company trusts, and are experts in challenging Wills under various legislation. We act for estates, claimants, trustees and beneficiaries, providing advice. We also have experienced estate, trust and property teams to ensure that your assets are properly cared for once the dispute is resolved.

While a negotiated settlement is likely is the preferred option, you can trust that our team have extensive court experience and the ability to develop strategies, and anticipate and manage risks when it comes to civil litigation.

Good People, Great Lawyers

Our clients are whānau

Our clients are individuals and families, companies and trusts, charities, hapū and iwi. We pride ourselves in caring for our clients, making their lives easier through the long-standing relationships we build with them. 

Excellence, People, Teamwork

McCaw Lewis is driven by three key values: Whāia te iti kahurangiManaakitanga and Kotahitanga.


We offer a comprehensive suite of legal services with a focus on commercial, Te Tiriti o Waitangipropertydispute resolutionasset planningenvironmental/natural resourcesworkplace law and Māori land

Estate Disputes and Challenging a Will

The sadness and stress that the death of a loved one brings can be even more complex when someone believes that the deceased’s Will is not fair, or they are concerned about the actions of the executor of the Will.  

Seeking legal advice to determine what you may be entitled to is commonplace, and you may wish to challenge the Will or raise a dispute about how an estate is being handled. 

We can assist with:

  • Challenging Wills or validating a document as a Will under the following Acts:
    • Family Protection Act.
    • Testamentary Promises Act.
    • Property (Relationships) Act.
  • Disputes between executors.
  • Administration issues.

Trust Disputes

Family and company trusts are often complex, and trust disputes often arise due to differing views and personalities amongst trustees and/or trustee misconduct. Inter-trustee disputes can be tricky to manage and resolve.

If your trust is not operating as it should, either because of inter-trustee disputes or issues or otherwise, we are here to help.

We can assist with:

  • Disputes between beneficiaries and trustees.
  • Administration issues.


Contact us today

07 838 2079

Our team are ready to help with your trust or estate dispute. You can give us a call or enter your details in the form below and we will contact you as soon as possible.

Related Publications


“Put Up or Shut Up” – A Valuable Trustee Tool

Being a trustee is an onerous duty, particularly when someone is alleging they have a claim against you personally as a trustee or that they have a claim against the property of the trust/estate you are administering.  Section 135 of the Trusts Act 2019, formerly section 75 of the Trustee Act 1956, provides an effective, but not often utilised, solution – it enables you to require the person making the allegation to “put up or shut up”. 

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How to Manage Your Role as an Executor and Beneficiary in a Civil Dispute

If you are appointed as an executor under a Will, a large amount of trust is placed in you. An executor has duties towards the beneficiaries, and beneficiaries have their own rights.  But what about when an executor is also a beneficiary under a Will? How do you balance those two roles?

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Trust disputes and the High Court

Trust disputes often arise due to differing views and personalities amongst trustees and/or trustee misconduct. Sometimes a ‘problem trustee’ is willing to retire, and retirement and replacement simply happens via the trust deed. But often that is not the case, or is not possible, and the High Court needs to step in. This article addresses the High Court’s jurisdiction around trusts and, in particular, trustee removal and replacement.

Read more