A will is a legal document that states what is to happen to a person’s belongings and assets after their death.

A solicitor is required to establish a will’s validity and to ensure probate is granted, which means legal permission is given to carry out the will’s instructions. Sometimes there can be delays as the will’s validity is checked.

One or more people may be named in the will as the executor/s. An executor has the legal responsibility of carrying out the instructions of the will, and for sorting out the private affairs of the person who has died.

If you are named executor and feel unable to deal with these matters, a solicitor can advise you, or will do this task for you, as will any trustee company. Sorting out personal affairs may take a long time, often between 3-12 months, and may involve costs.

If there is no will or a will cannot be found, a person is said to have died intestate. The next of kin will need to act on behalf of the estate, or an administrator can be appointed by the High Court. 

Head to the NZ Government website here for more information.