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  • Jonelle Williams

What to expect when finalising an estate

When a loved one passes away grief is experienced differently by each family, and members within each family, and administering an estate can be difficult during this time. Our role is to assist the executors in a sensitive and caring way, and to provide you with excellent legal advice.

Your first meeting with Lucas & Lucas

  • After a loved one passes, the first step is to meet with the family. Usually this will be at a time shortly after the funeral.

  • During this meeting, we discuss the will and help the executor(s) to consider if Probate is required.

  • Probate is the term used when someone dies leaving a will. The person(s) named in the will as the executor(s) apply to the High Court to have the will declared valid and to administer the estate. Probate gives the person(s) the authority to manage the estate. Probate is required if there is, with any one bank or investment institution, more than $15,000 or if land is in their sole name or as tenants in common.

  • If in the unlikely event there is no will, we discuss the options available and whether Letters of Administration may be required.


  • To obtain probate, we prepare for completion by the executor(s) an affidavit for grant of Probate (with the original will as an exhibit).

  • The affidavit can be completed at our first meeting.

  • We then arrange for the affidavit together with an Application and the draft Probate (court order) to be file in the High Court of New Zealand at Wellington. The filing fee is $200. This is filed with the High Court by courier.

  • The court will consider the application and this takes usually between two to six weeks for the probate to be granted after this is filed.

Confirm assets and liabilities of the estate

  • We can assist with confirming the assets and liabilities of the estate.

  • If the person owns jointly (joint tenants) a home, this asset would NOT form part of the estate, but we assist with the legal paper work for this to be transferred to the surviving owner (known as transmission by survivorship).

  • If the person has joint bank accounts and/or investments then again these accounts would NOT form part of the estate and we can assist with the legal paper work to advise the bank or financial institution to have these transferred by survivorship.

  • The remaining assets in the sole name of the person would then form the estate assets. These can include any car, bank accounts, term deposits, KiwiSaver, shares, investments, real estate and other valuable items, such as collectables.

  • As required, we can assist the executor(s)

    • to contact the organisations, close the bank accounts and investments, sell or transfer property and other assets and assist with the legal paper work.

    • in advising the banks and financial institutions that the person has died. This then freezes the accounts/investments until probate is granted.

    • to understand and comply with the IRD tax requirements for the estate. The tax rate for estate income is 33%. Each estate is required to apply for an estate IRD tax number and file tax returns.

How long will it take?

The time required to administer an estate varies depending on the circumstances of each estate.

  • We estimate that simple and mid-sized estates usually take between twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months to complete, from the date of the grant of Probate.

  • The length of time for estate administering varies depending on the number of assets of the estate and the number of beneficiaries. Some more complex estates can take significantly longer. We like to set realistic time frames.

  • Where a will is challenged by a family member or there are complex assets, such as overseas property, administration may take longer.

  • We have excellent relationships with solicitors in Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada to assist with any the administering any assets in these countries.

Customer Due Diligence

Please do not be offended when we request verification of identification and address. In practical terms we require proof of identification to verify full names, dates of birth and confirmation of residential address. This applies both to the executor(s) and to all the beneficiaries of the estate.

All banks, financial institutions, stock brokers, lawyers and accountants are required to verify this information. The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorisms Act 2009 has placed increased emphasis on customer due diligence. We are experienced in collecting this information to streamline the administration process for the estates which we assist with the administration.

For further information contact us or call (03) 477 8080

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