If the value of one of the estate’s assets is $15,000 or more, the executor of the Will or administrator of an intestate estate must apply to the High Court for probate or Letters of Administration. Currently the Court fee is $200 including GST.
The work involved in administering an estate can vary greatly. It depends on the extent of the assets and liabilities, where they are held, the availability of the executors and the circumstances of the beneficiaries. If there’s a claim against the estate (see section on ‘Claims against an estate’), resolution of the claim may be time-consuming and add to the estate lawyer’s fees.
Lawyers charge in a variety of ways: their fees may be based on the time taken at a set rate per hour or there may be a fixed fee for specific tasks. Sometimes the fees are a combination of these charging methods.
The executor or administrator must ensure the estate’s debts are paid. This can be done once probate or letters of administration have been granted and there’s cash available from redeemed investments. If the invoice for the funeral has already been paid by a family member or friend, that person should be reimbursed for this payment.
Administration costs, such as advertising for creditors (see the section on ‘The Will’ ) are paid from estate funds.
Inland Revenue must be notified and a date of death tax return filed if required. Any tax payable is an estate debt. It’s the executor or administrator’s responsibility to ensure all tax requirements for the estate are completed: the estate’s lawyer and/or accountant will help the executors with this.