Q. Why does it cost so much to apply for probate of a will, or for letters of administration for someone who died without a will?

A. We don’t know. As an introductory offer, we can bring the cost down to $500 (incl GST), for an application for probate, in most circumstances.  Other providers charge $1050-$2000 or more.

That $500 total currently INCLUDES the High Court filing fee of $200. (Be quick!  This will not last forever…)

Letters of administration (where there is no will) need more individual assessment. Email us for more information.

How it works / Preliminary assessment / Preliminary steps (if any) / Application documents / You do the rest / Original will needed – keep it safe! / Guideline costs / We know what we’re doing / Recent grateful client

‘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.

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 a solicitor, or Public Trust, or accountant, etc.

See here: Public Trust’s ‘Executor Assist’ service.  (And their charges – here.)

Helpful information: Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB): estate administration.

‘Our probate-application service can save you money – by saving us time.’

AS AN INTRODUCTORY OFFER (likely to expire mid July 2018, but we reserve the right to withdraw it earlier), we will draft any probate application and supporting affidavit by executor/s for the same, low fee, of $300 including GST. You will also have to pay the separate High Court filing fee of $200. That makes the $500 total mentioned above. 

The ‘preliminary assessment’ includes a basic check that the will has been validly executed and the appointed executors are eligible to act. If you provide copies of certificates of title, it also includes advice as to whether land is held as a ‘joint tenancy’ (which may mean probate is unnecessary).

Document preparation also includes a covering letter to the High Court, and the actual ‘probate’ and ‘copy probate’ documents that are also sent to the High Court.

Act now! This special pricing will not last!

Email to request a preliminary assessment!

These conditions apply:

  • you answer all the factual questions we ask you, first time, and accurately, in English
  • you provide a copy of the will (and English translation, if necessary) with your initial answers
  • you pay our preliminary-assessment invoice without delay
  • if you continue with the full application documents, you provide full current information about the deceased, and about the executor/s, when requested
  • you pay our document-preparation invoice when the documents are ready to be sent to you for signing
  • you make the arrangements for the executor/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

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, or contact an executor, etc. 

How it works

You contact us by phone, text, or (preferably) email.

We do not meet with you in person (except perhaps if requested by someone local in Oxford, Canterbury, while we are testing our processes).  We also avoid telephone calls unless essential – because they are time consuming.

Preliminary assessment

  1. We send you some specific questions – preferably by email.
  2. You send us the answers – preferably online (in an app that we send you). 
  3. You also send us a photo or scan of the will (plus English translation, if the will is not in English).

We tell you:

  • whether any complications exist – and, if so, what will be involved;
  • what preliminary steps, if any, are needed before the application can be made.

We charge you $180 incl GST for that assessment.

You can choose whether to continue with us at that point, or go somewhere else, or do it yourself with the information we have provided.

Preliminary steps (if any)

Preliminary steps may include placing a ‘missing wills’ advertisement, or enquiries with the Registrar-General, or issuing notices to specific people, or finding other documents, etc.   You can do this yourself, with our guidance, or pay us (or someone else) to do it.

Most applications for probate will NOT need these ‘preliminary steps’.

Application documents

Then we prepare the application documents.

Our fee for preparing documents for a straight-forward application would normally be at least $320 (incl GST) – BUT as a special, introductory offer, we are reducing it to $120.   That means that, including the preliminary assessment, you pay us just $300 in total, PLUS you pay the High Court $200 fee direct. 

Act now! This special pricing will not last!

Email to request a preliminary assessment!

In most cases the documents should be ready within 3 business days. We will then invoice you.

We will email or courier the documents to you within 24 hours of receiving payment of our invoice.

By then, you will need to have the original will in your possession. (We can help with that.)

You do the rest

You will then get the documents signed, make copies, and send the originals to the High Court with the original will and the $200 High Court fee. We will provide a covering letter for you.

PREMIUM SERVICE (optional): If you want us to do the liaison between executors/applicants to get everything signed and witnessed, and/or if you want us to send the signed documents to the High Court on your behalf, we will charge an extra fee of $200 per executor/applicant, plus courier costs.  (Yes, we do encourage you to do it yourself.)

Do we need the original will, or is a copy good enough?

Before you can send the documents to the High Court, you (or we) will need to uplift the original will from whoever holds it.  A copy is not good enough.

However, assuming the original will is currently safe, leave it where it is, until everything else is ready.

We will guide you about that process.

As long as you have a photocopy or photo of the will in the meantime, we can work from that.

If the original will has been destroyed, additional steps will be needed if you want to use a copy instead.

If you already hold the original will, keep it safe and DO NOT staple, pin, clip, or stick anything to it. Any of those actions could require a full, expensive explanation to the High Court.

Act now! This special pricing will not last!

Email to request a preliminary assessment!

Guideline costs – probate (existing will)

You will pay:

  • $180 (incl GST) preliminary assessment – Kiwilaw
  • $120 (incl GST) application documents – Kiwilaw  (special introductory offer – normally $320 or more)
  • $200 filing fee – High Court
  • time spent in answering Kiwilaw’s questions online or in writing
  • time spent in uplifting original will from whoever currently holds it
  • your own arrangements for getting documents between executors/applicants (for checking and signing), and to High Court


  • costs of preliminary steps (if any)
  • costs of extra documents (if any) (e.g. deed of renunciation, notice to overseas executor, translation of affidavit/will, etc) – applicable only in unusual cases
  • (optional) $200+ per executor/applicant, plus couriers, for PREMIUM service

In comparison, the Public Trust will charge you ‘from $750+GST’, according to their website -PLUS the $200 High Court fee (their stated fees EXCLUDE disbursements).  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 we have not found any under $750+GST (plus $200 High Court fee).  (Please let us know if someone charges less.)

It’s your choice.

Act now! This special pricing will not last!

Email to request a preliminary assessment!

Er, yes, we know what we are doing… (in case you are nervous)

Before diverting into family law and court work, and while employed as a staff solicitor, Cheryl (owner of Kiwilaw) did a lot of probate and basic estate-administration work.  She learnt the forms and the principles, and incidentally came up with basic mail-merge templates to make it easier and faster.

She did applications to the Maori Land Court for succession, as well as applications to the High Court for probate and letters of administration.

She wrote a chapter on ‘Maori wills and succession’ for a respected reference publication, which she updated for several years.

And then she did no more in that area, except for litigation about contested wills or estates.

Until now.   When she has updated her knowledge, dusted off her enthusiasm, and implemented some new systems designed to streamline the process.

‘No one should have to pay $1200-$2000 to get a piece of paper to validate a will that mum or dad already paid a lawyer to do right…’

Now she needs to test that new, supposedly streamlined process. For that, she needs clients. Hence this introductory special offer.

Act now! This special pricing will not last!

Email to request a preliminary assessment!

Recent grateful client…

‘Recently I used Cheryl’s services to apply for Letters Of Administration after my father passed away without a known will.

Cheryl made the process so easy and stress free after I became completely overwhelmed at the idea of having to deal with a large law firm and all the very large costs that came with them.

Not only did Cheryl explain everything in a way that I understood, but she also made sure I was comfortable with each part of the process before we moved onto the next one.

I absolutely loved the fact Cheryl gave me the option to complete each of the necessary research steps myself to keep costs down rather than just do it for me then send me a bill.

I would not hesitate to recommend Cheryl’s services to anyone in my position, I can’t speak highly enough of her and the work she did for me. I am incredibly grateful to her for making a difficult time so much easier.’       –  19 May 2018 (North Canterbury client)

Act now! This special pricing will not last!

Email to request a preliminary assessment!


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(Yes, this webpage is a bit primitive and DIY.  Would you prefer us to have a fancy ‘professional’ page and charge fancy ‘professional’ prices for our services? All in good time….)

Page updated 20 June 2018.