Guideline costs – probate or letters of administration
Remember – a probate application is for when the deceased left a valid will. Otherwise you need to apply for letters of administration.
In most cases we will do an application for letters of administration on the same basis as an application for probate (but you may also need consent forms, spousal option including compulsory advice, plus will enquiry and paternity search, none of which are covered within our standard fee).
For a standard application for probate or letters of administration, you will pay:
- $490 (incl GST) application documents – Kiwilaw – fixed fee
- $200 filing fee – High Court (unless you are eligible for a fee waiver on grounds of financial hardship – more information here)
- time spent in answering Kiwilaw’s questions online or in writing
- time spent in uplifting original will from whoever currently holds it
- time spent reading and following clear instructions for finalising documents
- your own arrangements for getting documents between executors/applicants (for checking and signing)
- courier to Wellington High Court
- costs of preliminary steps (if any) – such as paternity search, will enquiry, death certificate, proof of correct name
- (letters of administration only) – cost of consent forms or notices to other children of deceased ($115); (if the deceased left a surviving spouse/partner) notice of spousal option (and compulsory legal advice) ($115 in small estates)
- costs of extra documents (if any) (e.g. deed of renunciation, notice to overseas executor, translation of affidavit/will, affidavit dealing with special circumstances, etc) – applicable only in unusual cases
- (optional) $300+GST per executor/applicant, plus couriers, for PREMIUM service (where we liaise with executors and the High Court, instead of you doing it – see ‘How it Works’ page)
For the same straightforward will/executors, Perpetual Guardian will charge you ‘approximately $1200 plus GST and there is also the Court filing fee of $200.’ (email from Perpetual Guardian, 21 May 2018).
Solicitors’ fees vary but, for probate, we have not found any under $400+GST (plus $200 High Court fee). We found just one at that level, with three others between $600 and $1000 (plus GST). Most seem to be $1000-$1500 (plus GST). We have learnt of some charging $2000 or even $2500, plus disbursements. For letters of administration, we have been told of several charging $3000-3500 plus disbursements. For probate, we have been told of at least two charging $3500 or $4000.
(Please let us know if someone charges less.)
In most cases this particular legal work does not require detailed knowledge of the family or the property, or discretionary decisions by the client or the lawyer. It merely requires compliance with technical rules.
Once probate or letters of administration have been granted, the family solicitor may well be the best person to provide ongoing advice and help to the executor/s or administrator, especially with complex property issues or family dynamics.
It’s your choice.
Page updated 12 February 2019