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General

About these FAQs

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Please note that these FAQs are intended to provide general information only and may not cover all possible scenarios. It is advisable to consult with a legal professional or an estate administration expert for personalized advice related to a specific deceased estate in New Zealand.

What is a deceased estate?

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A deceased estate refers to the total assets, property, and debts left behind by a person after they pass away. It includes everything they owned, such as real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings, as well as any outstanding liabilities like mortgages or debts. Administering a deceased estate involves managing these assets, settling debts, and distributing the remaining estate to the beneficiaries as per the deceased person's Will or intestacy laws.

What happens if the customer has no Will?

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When a person dies without a Will, they die intestate. If a person dies intestate, the closest relative of the deceased person can make an application to the High Court for Letters of Administration. The High Court assesses the application and can appoint an administrator to deal with the deceased’s estate.

Who is responsible for managing a deceased estate?

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In New Zealand, the responsibility for managing a deceased estate primarily falls upon the Executor or Administrator. Here's a short summary of the key individuals involved:

  1. Executor: If the deceased person left a valid Will, they would have named an Executor (or Executors) in the Will. The Executor is responsible for carrying out the deceased person's wishes as outlined in the Will. They ensure that assets of the deceased person’s estate are properly distributed, debts and taxes are paid, and any other necessary legal processes are followed.
  2. Administrator: If the deceased person did not leave a Will (i.e. they died intestate) or did not name an Executor in their will, an Administrator may be appointed by the court to manage the estate. The Administrator typically acts as the personal representative and performs similar duties as an Executor.

It's important to note that the role of managing a deceased estate involves various legal and financial responsibilities. Executors and Administrators may wish to seek professional advice from lawyers, accountants, or estate administration specialists to ensure the estate is handled appropriately and in compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

What is the process of obtaining Probate or Letters of Administration?

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Probate is a procedure whereby a Will is recognized by the High Court as being authentic.

It is necessary for the Executor(s) of the Will to obtain Probate from the High Court so that they have the legal authority to deal with the deceased’s assets (and liabilities) to enable distribution of the estate in accordance with the will.

A Probate Order is usually granted by the Registrar of the High Court after receiving an application from the Executor(s). It involves establishing that it was in fact the testator (maker of the Will) who died, that the will was properly signed and attested (authentic), and that the Executor(s) have been appointed.

Letters of Administration is the formal process of applying to the High Court to have an Administrator appointed to administer an estate where someone has died intestate (i.e. without a Will). On intestacy the Administration Act 1969 sets out how a deceased’s assets are to be distributed. Usually a person with a beneficial entitlement to the estate will most often be appointed as Administrator, but who this will be and whose consent may be required can be complex.

The process for obtaining Probate or Letters of Administration can vary depending on the complexity of the estate, the specific circumstances, and any potential disputes or legal issues that may arise. Seeking legal advice or assistance from professionals experienced in estate administration is highly recommended to ensure compliance with the legal requirements and to navigate the process smoothly.

Is there a minimum amount Rabobank can pay out without receiving Probate or Letters of Administration?

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Yes. Smaller estates do not require Probate/Letters of Administration. It is not necessary to apply for Probate if the total value of the estate, excluding joint assets, is valued under $15,000. However, if the estate includes the ownership of land or an interest in land, Probate will be required regardless of the value of the estate.

If the total value of funds held by Rabobank for the deceased customer is under $15,000, and Probate or Letters of Administration are not being applied for, we can pay out the funds held to a person who applies under the customer’s Will, provided we have a certified copy of the deceased customer’s Death Certificate, and a signed original copy of Rabobank’s Declaration and Claim to the Credit of a Deceased Customer Indemnity form.

Where a customer has died intestate (i.e. without a Will), we can pay out the funds held to a person who signs this Declaration and Indemnity Form, provided we have received a certified copy of the deceased customer’s Death Certificate.

By signing the Declaration and Indemnity form, the applicant declares that they are entitled to withdraw the funds held by Rabobank and agrees to reimburse Rabobank if the funds are incorrectly paid.

What happens if I have a Joint Account?

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As the surviving joint account owner, you can continue to use this account as your own. Once we have received the deceased customer’s Death Certificate and a secure message or telephone call from the surviving joint account owner, we will convert the account to an individual account in the name of the surviving account owner.

Can I access the deceased's bank accounts?

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No. However, you may be able to access funds to pay for funeral expenses. Please contact deceased.estates@rabobank.com for more information.