What information should executors take to their initial meeting with estate lawyers?

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Selling deceased estate propertyThe more information you can provide at this stage, the better.  Executors may wish to discuss these matters with other family members, or conduct all the research on their own. You may not be able to find out all the information, in which case your solicitors will be able to complete searches for assets such as shares and life insurance policies.

Examples of the types of information on estate assets to take would be:

  • Bank statements including credit card statements
  • Information on any life insurance  - this could be the original policy, policy renewal notice or a letter from the insurance company
  • Share certificates or statements from one or more of the share registries
  • Bonus Bond Certificates (or any information re the Bonus Bonds – preferably something with the Holder Number)
  • KiwiSaver account details
  • Information on any property held – copies of the Certificate of Title or rates demands if you have them, but if you don’t have any written information the solicitor will be able to do a title search as long as you have the address of the property

Your solicitors will need to know how estate assets are held as this affects how the estate will be administered. For instance, if the person held assets in his or her name worth $15,000.00 or more it will be necessary to make an application to the High Court for either Probate (if there is a Will) or Letters of Administration (if there is no Will) in order to administer the estate.

Any assets that are held jointly with another person can be transferred to that person with a certified copy of the Death Certificate. If all assets are either under the $15,000 threshold or held jointly (or in a trust), then it will not be necessary to apply to the High Court to obtain formal administration of the estate. If assets are held jointly, in many cases the family will be able to deal with bringing in the assets themselves. However, in the case of jointly held property you will need to use a law firm to transmit the property to the surviving property owner(s).

For more information on dealing with transmitting, transferring and selling property, please read the article “Selling residential property from a deceased estate”

Information on any debts of the estate, including:

  • Funeral account
  • Any other funeral related expenses (ie catering / head-stone)
  • Power / phone / Sky TV / rates and water rates bills
  • Information on any credit card debt or outstanding loans


Death certificate

In most cases your solicitors will need to see the original Death Certificate. You can bring the certificate in to them at the initial meeting or ask the funeral home to send it directly to them.

Other information / documents that may also be needed are:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Drivers licence
  • Passport

Information on family members
Your solicitors will ask you about family members of the person that has passed away – all information regarding any spouse / de-facto partner (including, in some cases, ex-partners) and children (including any adopted children or step children who were dependant upon the deceased at the time of their passing) will need to be provided, as well as in some cases information regarding parents or siblings.

In cases of re-marriage, step families or blended families, the information you provide to your solicitors about family members often becomes even more crucial to issues related to the administration of the estate.

If you're ready to set up a meeting with an estate lawyer, please contact the author, 
Mimi Lewell by phone on 837 6831 or email mimi.lewell@smithpartners.co.nz 

 

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