Estate Lawyers

Estate lawyer AucklandOur estate lawyers will gently guide you through the estate administration process. Experiencing the loss of a loved one is never easy, and negotiating the legal issues can make bereavement even harder.  Our experienced estate lawyers and administrators can explain your responsibilities and liabilities, obtain formal administration (Probate or Letters of Administration) from the High Court where required, bringing in the assets, pay any estate debts, file tax returns and distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries.

You need someone to negotiate on your behalf and guide you through the process with compassion.  Our estates team has a wealth of experience, and approaches each case with the attention and sensitivity you deserve.Our years of experience means that we can deal with complicated estates (and simple ones!) with ease, including assistance with defending or making an estate claim.

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Estate Administration

If you are an executor our estates team can help you understand your responsibilities and legal liabilities. We can advise you on tax obligations and estate claim liability and assist you to bring in the assets of the estate, pay the debts of estate, advise on estate tax obligations and when and how to distribute the estate.  We can assist with the formal legal processes required, the day to days tasks and then distribute the estate in accordance with the Will or according to the Administration Act.

  • Executor's role and responsibilities - What does an executor do?
  • Estate Claim Liabilities
  • Filing tax returns for the estate and the deceased person
  • Distribution of an estate

Executor's Duties

If you are an executor our estates team can help you understand your responsibilities and legal liabilities. We can advise you on tax obligations and estate claim liability and assist you to bring in the assets of the estate, pay the debts of estate, advise on estate tax obligations and when and how to distribute the estate.  We can assist with the formal legal processes required, the day to days tasks and then distribute the estate in accordance with the Will or according to the Administration Act.

  • Executor's role and responsibilities - What does an executor do?
  • Estate Claim Liabilities
  • Filing tax returns for the estate and the deceased person
  • Distribution of an estate

Dealing with jointly held assets

Any assets that are owned jointly with another person or persons becomes the property of the survivor or survivors upon death and do not form part of the estate.

Our team can organise for the property to be officially transmitted to the survivor or survivors. If this is done at the time that the person dies then only the Death Certificate is required, a relatively simple procedure. However, if the property is not transmitted to the survivor at that time, then when the survivor dies it will be necessary to obtain Probate or Letters of Administration for both of the estates. This is a more expensive process and, particularly after a number of years, can be quite complicated.

  • Transferring jointly held bank accounts to the survivor(s)
  • Transferring jointly held property to the surivor(s)

Probate

In New Zealand, probate will be required if the deceased had a valid will and held significant assets in his or her own name worth more than $15,000, such as land bank accounts investments, shares or life insurance.  Obtaining Probate is the process of proving the will to the High Court and having the Will formally accepted as the last Will. Our skilled estate law team can ensure that this process goes as smoothly as possible, allowing the executors to get on with administering the estate.

  • Preparing for Probate
  • Filing for Probate with the High Court

 

Intestate Estates

When there is no Will, the estate is administered according to the Administration Act (1969) and it will be necessary to apply for Letters of Administration .  Our skilled estates team can help you understand who has the right to apply to be appointed the administrator and can prepare all the necessary documentation required for the application for a grant of Letters of Administration. 

Once Letters of Administration have been granted, we will then advise the administrator as to how the estate must be distributed to the beneficiaries which is specified in the Administration Act.

 

Administering the Estate – Bringing in the assets, paying debts and filing tax returns

Our estates team can work with the executors or administrators to ascertain the assets and liabilities of the estate.  We can bring in the assets of the estate; liaise with banks and investment companies to close bank accounts, and with insurance companies to claim on any life insurance. We can organise for any shares or property to be put into the name of the estate, after which they can be transferred to the beneficiaries of the estate or sold.  We can hold any funds received on investment, and can advertise for creditors and pay any bills on behalf of the estate.  We will then prepare statements showing all transactions that have come in and gone out of the estate and prepare distribution statements in preparation for interim and/or final distribution of the estate.  Our skilled team can also advise you on the tax obligations of the estate and assist with the filing of final tax returns. 

Distribution of the estate assets to beneficiaries

We recommend that executors and administrators do not distribute the estate until six months after the grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. This is because the executors can be held personally liable to settle any estate claims that are made within six months if the estate has been distributed prior to that date.   Estate claims can still be made after six months, and up to one year after the grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.  However executors are not liable if they have had no notice of any claim and the assets distributed can be traced to the beneficiaries of the estate.

When an estate is ready to be distributed we recommend holding aside a small amount of funds for finalising tax matters.  We would then send out an interim distribution statement to all of the beneficiaries of the estate showing how much is available for each of them, and ask each person to agree to the distribution of the estate in accordance with the statement. Once we have agreement from all of the beneficiaries, and final approval from the executors/administrators we will attend to the interim distribution.

Once tax and all other matters have been finalised we will attend to the final distribution of the estate.

Estate Litigation

If you want to challenge or contest a Will, or you need to defend a claim against an estate, you need experienced estate litgation lawyers who understand not only the law as it is written, but how case law affects how a judge would interpret the law.  Our skilled and highly experienced estate litigation lawyers can guide you through the process, explain the merits of your case, likely outcomes, the risks involved and what your options are.  Whether you choose to settle through mediation or battle it out in court, our skilled legal team will ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome.

  • Incapacity of Testator (Testamentary capacity claims)
  • Claims by adopted children
  • Claims by estranged children
  • Family Protection Claims
  • Relationship Property Claims
  • Testamentary Promises Claims

 

Estates EXPERTS
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