‘Cheryl is worthy of a New Year’s honour for bringing simplicity and low cost to an arcane process that has previously served only to enrich the legal profession…’ – client testimonial (Feb 2019) – see more here
We have no idea why most lawyers charge more than $1000 (including GST) for what should be less than 2 hours’ work by a legal executive. By phoning 25 firms, we found just 5 who would charge $1000 (PLUS GST) or less. we have heard of a few who charge $2000 or more. The High Court fee of $200 is extra.
We cannot explain this. An application for probate does not require specialist legal analysis, discretionary advice, or lengthy client interviews. It requires compliance with irritating technical rules set by the High Court.
An executor can obtain the grant of probate and then use whatever additional help they need to administer the estate and resolve any disputes. That is where the family lawyer may add real value.
For the probate application itself, we have brought the cost down to $690 (incl GST and including the High Court filing fee of $200), for an application for probate or (for core documents) letters of administration. This assumes you will do the ‘office tasks’ once the documents are ready to action.
Other providers charge $1050-$2500 or more. (More information…)
That $690 total INCLUDES the High Court filing fee of $200. It does not include extra documents required in special cases. It also does not include the cost of couriering the documents to the Wellington High Court (about $12). See other conditions below.
Even if the will is held by another lawyer, you can use our service. You may like to ask the other lawyer for their likely charges, and then make a decision. (If you use our service, you will need to uplift the will from that lawyer before you can send the documents to the High Court.)
Need to know whether to apply for probate or letters of administration? Use our (free) automated ‘interview’ (which uses the same technology as we now use to produce most probate-application documents).
‘Cheryl made the process so much easier than I thought it would be in an already difficult time. Her online questionnaire was simple and easy to follow and Cheryl completed the paperwork promptly and supplied easy to follow step by step instructions for me to finalise the application.’ – client testimonial (Feb 2019) – see more here
What is probate, anyway? or letters of administration?
‘Probate’ essentially means proving – to the High Court’s satisfaction – that the persons named have the legal right to administer a specific will of a specific deceased person. If there is no will, or if there are no surviving executors, ‘letters of administration’ are granted instead of probate.
The High Court issues a grant of probate (or letters of administration) – which gives legal authority to the executors or administrators to administer the deceased’s estate. In most cases, this is a relatively routine application.
Sometimes probate is unnecessary – if the estate has no more than $15,000 with any one institution, and if there is no land (except a ‘joint tenancy’ or shares in Maori freehold land).
Once probate is granted (or letters of administration), the executor/s or administrator/s can either do the rest of the estate-administration work themselves, or use another professional to do that work – including the will-maker’s solicitor, another solicitor, or Public Trust, or Perpetual Guardian, or accountant, etc.
These conditions apply to our service:
- if we inform you that a different type of application is necessary, you do not try to proceed with our standard application
- you provide full current information about the deceased, and about the executor/s or applicant/s, when requested
- you pay our invoice when the documents are ready to be sent to you for signing
- you make the arrangements for the applicant/s to sign the documents and have them witnessed by a JP, lawyer, or court registrar (with our guidance)
- the application is prepared in your name/s (not ours), and you send the documents direct to the High Court (with our guidance)
There will be extra charges if you need additional documents (e.g. deed of renunciation, notice to overseas executor, affidavit of medical professional, translation of non-English will, translation of affidavit, death certificate, etc), or if you need our active help to uplift the original will, make enquiries about a possible later will, contact an executor, provide advice about a special procedural point, etc.
For letters of administration, there are likely to be extra charges if the application is by a surviving spouse of the deceased, or if the applicant is one of several children of the deceased. You will also need a ‘will enquiry’ through the law society and, if the deceased was male, you will almost always need a paternity search. Our standard fee does not include those costs.
Other helpful information:
Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB): estate administration
Helpful Kiwilaw resources
Page updated 3 March 2019.