What is probate?

Probate is applied for by the executor of the Will. Probate is a court order recognising a Will as an authentic document and gives the executor the legal authority to deal with the deceased's estate and distribute according to the instructions of the Will. Until probate is issued, no assets can be given out to the beneficiaries, bank accounts cannot be closed and no money is available for the initial costs the executor may have to cover. If you use a trustee company such as Perpetual Guardian they often will issue a short term overdraft to cover these expenses until probate can allow the money to be repaid.

What is required to get probate?

The application must be completed in a specific format, as required by the High Court rules, and include the following documents:

  • An application;
  • An affidavit for the grant of probate;
  • You may need a separate affidavit of death;
  • The probate form;
  • A copy of the probate form; and,
  • The original Will.

It may be necessary to engage an expert to complete the probate document, such as a lawyer, Justice of the Peace or a trustee company such as Perpetual Guardian.

How long does it take to get probate?

This can take anywhere from four to six weeks.

Where do I file an application for probate?

All applications for probate are now filed at the High Court in Wellington.

Do you always need to get probate?

Generally, when there is a Will and the estate is more than $120,000, an application must be made to the High Court for the grant of probate. However, when an estate’s assets are under $120,000 a trustee company, like Perpetual Guardian, can file an Election to Administer. 

There are special circumstances where you do not need to apply for probate. Consult a trust company or a lawyer to see if probate is required. 

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