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Introduction

Some key legal words and what they mean


Administrator
See below, “Who’s who: Executors and other key people”.

Assets – The property (including money, land, houses and chattels) that someone owns.

Bequest – Property (other than money) disposed of under a will.

Codicil – An additional or supplementary will made after the original will has been signed. The codicil doesn’t cancel the original will. It changes that will or adds to it.

Grant of administration – a general term that covers:

  • when the court grants probate for a will, and
  • when it appoints someone to manage the estate by granting “letters of administration” (when there’s no will).

Estate – Everything that a person owns or controls at the time of their death.

ExecutorSee below, “Who’s who: Executors and other key people”.

Intestate – describes the estate of someone who dies leaving no will or whose property is not effectively disposed of under a will.

The laws of intestacy – Laws that determine how, and among whom, any property is divided when someone dies intestate.

Legacy – Money or other property left by a will.

Letters of administration – A High Court order (also known as an “order to administer”) that vests intestate property in an administrator and gives that administrator power to manage an intestate estate.

Personal representative – A general term for the person who manages the deceased person’s estate, who will either be the “executor” (the person appointed to do this under a will) or the “administrator” (the person appointed by the courts to do this under “letters of administration” if there’s no will). For information about executors and administrators, see below, “Who’s who: Executors and other key people”.

Probate – A High Court order that establishes that a will is valid and gives the executor authority to deal with the estate.

Will-maker – A person who makes, changes, revokes or revives a will – such a person used to be called a “testator” (male) or “testatrix” (female).

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Wills

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

New Zealand Law Society

www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/

Pamphlets

Making a will and estate administration

Dividing up relationship property.

Access pamphlets online or order hardcopies from the New Zealand Law Society.

Phone: (04) 472 7837
Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

Ministry of Justice

www.justice.govt.nz/courts/high-court/apply-for-probate-and-get-copy-of-will

This webpage provides some useful information and links on the more technical legal side of getting a copy of a will when a relative has died.

Māori Land Succession

www.maorilandcourt.govt.nz/your-maori-land/succession/

This gives information on how Māori land is dealt with, including how land is dealt with after an owner has passed away.

Public Trust

www.publictrust.co.nz/personal/wills

Phone: 0800 371 471
The Public Trust gives information about things to consider when making a will, setting things up, choosing an executor and estate administration. Facilities are also available for making a will online. You can call them or visit their website to fill out an enquiry form.

Consumer NZ

www.consumer.org.nz/articles/wills

The Consumer NZ website contains good information about wills, including the legal requirements for making a will, and what it’s likely to cost to administer after a person dies.

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