Probate - frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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What is probate?

Probate is the first step in an executor’s duties. It is a document issued by the court certifying the will’s validity and confirming the appointment of an executor to administer the deceased estate. The grant of probate confirms the executor’s right to administer the estate. The court requires proof that the executor appointed in the will is alive, willing and competent to undertake the tasks involved. It is also important to verify that the will itself is the last will made by the deceased.

How do I know if I need to get a Grant of Probate?

As a general rule, if the person who has died owned an asset over the value of $15,000 in their sole name, you will need a Grant of Probate.

Can I submit the application myself?

You can. Public Trust is here to help you make the best choice based on the complexities and time frame involved. We can minimize the burden by doing everything for you if required, with our Probate service.

What will it cost?

We offer our full range of estate administration services depending on the service you require, our fee might be a combination of fixed price and on an hourly rate basis. If we're doing all the work for you, we will quote you a fixed fee for every element of the estate administration process, including all third party costs and tax. Our fixed price will be based on the tasks required to administer the estate and not on the time taken, or the value of the estate.

Do I need to involve a solicitor?

Public Trust is authorised to carry out all the functions of a probate solicitor in estate administration terms.

Not only are we probate experts, we will give you a fixed price quote at the outset and provide a specialist team who will be your point of contact throughout the duration of the estate administration.

There is a will that leaves everything to my mother/ father; does this mean that I don't need a Grant of Probate?

It depends who is appointed as the executor, if the person who has died owned assets in his or her sole name, over $15,000 you will probably need a Grant of Probate. Exceptions include where the only assets are jointly owned or under the value of $15,000.

How and by whom are we regulated?

Public Trust is governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of New Zealand.

What is an estate?

Someone's estate is everything that they own in their sole name; all of their assets (whether real property or personal property) and their debts.

Who are executors?

An executor is quite simply a person the deceased wished to deal with the administration of their estate after their death, and is the person, or one of the people, named in the will.

What is the executor responsible for?

An executor has many tasks and legal obligations to perform, which are likely to include:

  • Overseeing the funeral arrangements
  • Completing an inventory of personal assets
  • Collecting and selling assets
  • Ensuring all creditors are paid
  • Completing and filing insurance documents
  • Notifying various agencies and organisations of the death
  • Preparing asset distribution reports for the beneficiaries
  • Managing any disputes.

On what types of estates can we assist you with probate?

We can do probate application on all estates. However, there are limits to what Executor Assist can cover. Call us for a chat.

What documents do I need to sign to obtain Public Trust's Probate services?

A letter of engagement between the executor and Public Trust to provide a clear plan moving forward.

Now I understand the roles and responsibility of an executor, I don't think I will have time to do the estate administration myself. Can Public Trust help me?

Yes we can help as an agent or as an executor. If Public Trust acts as an agent, you retain executorship and control over all decisions whilst we work in the background to help you fulfill your role. If you want to renounce executorship to Public Trust, it needs to be done before the probate application is granted by the High Court.

What happens when the executor of the will has passed away before the administration is complete?

According to the Administration Act 1969, if the executor of the will has passed away before the administration is complete, the executor of their estate can take on the administration.

What if as an executor, I don't want to do the last will search?

If it's not the last will then the will may not be valid and future claims may be lodged against the estate.

How do I swear/ affirm an affidavit of death?

Any person that can confirm that the deceased has passed away by swearing that they

a) attended the funeral

b) were present when the person died

c) saw the deceased after they had died can swear or affirm this fact in the presence of a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor.