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Individual rights & freedoms

Making a will

Administrators are appointed by the court

When will the court appoint an administrator?

The court will appoint an administrator if you die without a will, or if you have a will but don’t have an executor – for example, if:

What does an administrator do?

Administration Act 1969, s 41 Family Protection Act 1955, ss 11, 11A

An administrator carries out the same functions and has all the same duties as an executor (see: “What does an executor do?”).

If there’s a will but no executor, the administrator will distribute the estate according to the will.
If there isn’t a will, the administrator will distribute the estate according to the laws of intestacy (see: “Dealing with the deceased’s property: Wills, “intestacy,” and small estates”).

Who should be the administrator?

Administration Act 1969, s 6 High Court Rules 2016 (LI 2016/225), rule 27.35(4)

Usually a family member applies to be the administrator.

The person who applies to be the administrator must give the court evidence that everyone who is equally close to the deceased person has either agreed to or been told about their application.

The court will almost always appoint the deceased person’s next of kin as the administrator (unless they don’t want the job).

If more than one person applies, the court will usually appoint the administrator according to the following order:

  • the surviving spouse or de facto partner, then
  • the children of the deceased, then
  • the parents of the deceased, then
  • brothers and sisters of the deceased, then
  • grandparents, then
  • uncles and aunts.

Did this answer your question?


Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

New Zealand Law Society

The Law Society has helpful information on making a will and estate administration.

Website: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/making-a-will-and-estate-administration

Consumer NZ

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.

Website:  www.consumer.org.nz/articles/wills

Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice provides useful information on how to obtain a copy of a will when a relative has died.

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

Māori Land Succession

The Māori Land Court website provides information on how Māori land is dealt with, including how land is dealt with after an owner has passed away.

Website: www.maorilandcourt.govt.nz

Public Trust

The Public Trust is a provider of wills and estate administration services. Facilities are also available for making a will online. You can call them or visit their website to fill out an enquiry form.

Website: www.publictrust.co.nz/products-and-services/making-a-will
Phone: 0800 371 471

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