If a person from England or Wales (or any commonwealth country) dies owning assets located in New Zealand, whether it is property, land, money in a New Zealand bank account or shares in a New Zealand company, the person entitled to deal with their estate (the executor or administrator) is required to deal with these assets so that they can be passed on to the beneficiaries.
This process can be difficult as a local UK solicitor is not normally able to assist and may advise that a Grant of Probate in New Zealand needs to be obtained. If the Grant of Probate (the legal document confirming that the executor has the authority to deal with the estate of the deceased person) has already been obtained in the country where the deceased person lived such as England and Wales, it is often an easier and more cost effective process to have the Grant of Probate “resealed” in New Zealand rather than applying for a new Grant of Probate in New Zealand.
Resealing a Grant of Probate in New Zealand is the process of having the Grant of Probate from the country where the deceased person lived recognized in New Zealand. Obtaining the resealed Grant in New Zealand requires knowledge of the relevant legal rules and ensuring compliance with many procedures as well as an application to the High Court of New Zealand. Therefore, most people dealing with an estate where there are assets in New Zealand will need to instruct a lawyer who is experienced with dealing with the process of resealing the Grant of probate.
There may be circumstances where a resealed Grant of Probate may not be required, for example if the assets in New Zealand are of a particularly low value. You can find out whether a Resealed Grant of Probate in New Zealand is required by contacting the assets holder ie, the New Zealand Bank or the share registrar who will be able to inform you of the specific requirements. For any property in New Zealand, a New Zealand Grant of Probate or resealed Grant of Probate will be required.
In a situation where the deceased person did not have a will in place when they died, the person entitled to deal with the estate will obtain a document called a Grant of Letters of Administration instead of a Grant of Probate. This will provide the person with the authority to deal with the estate. They become known as the Administrator. A Grant of Administration can also be resealed in New Zealand, allowing the assets to be dealt with accordingly.
A New Zealand lawyer that is suitably qualified and experienced will be able to obtain the resealed Grant of Probate and will enable you to deal with the assets in New Zealand. They can also assist with the New Zealand assets being sold or transferred to the beneficiaries in accordance with their wishes.
Author: Sara Janion
DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to Worldwide Lawyers directly.