What happens at the first meeting with the estate’s lawyers?

14 November, 2014 | Mimi Lewell

Only the executors need to attend the meeting but they may invite other family members if they feel it is appropriate.

Arrange for payment of the funeral bills

It is a good idea to take any bills that need to be paid to the solicitors at the first meeting. If you need to obtain a formal grant of administration prior to being able to close the bank accounts, the lawyers can write to any creditors and let them know that their bills will be paid once the bank accounts have been closed.

Many funeral accounts offer a substantial discount for early payment. Your solicitor can liaise with the funeral home to extend the date for obtaining the discount, and also make arrangements to have the funeral account paid prior to obtaining Probate.

Decide if the estate needs to obtain Probate or Letters of Administration?

Using the information supplied by the executors regarding the assets of the estate, the solicitors can help ascertain whether the estate has any one asset worth more than $15,000.00.  If there is, it will be necessary to apply for either Probate or Letters of Administration in order to administer the estate.

Further investigation may be required to confirm whether or not the estate will need to apply for formal administration.

Offer advice on possible claims against the estate

The lawyers may advise you at this first meeting regarding the types of claims that can be made on an estate. Listed are the three most common types:

  • Family Protection Claims
  • Relationship Property Claims
  • Testamentary Promises Claims

If there is a will and you know that one or more family members have been either left out of the will completely or given a reduced share compared with other family members, it is important that you let your solicitor know. The solicitor can then advise as to your position in terms of what claims could possibly be made.

If no will has been found, it is extremely important that the family relationships are all made very clear. Once your solicitors know all of the family details, they will be able to advise you as to who can apply to be appointed as the administrator and how the estate will be divided.

Give advice on dealing with jointly held property

In most cases, jointly held property can be transferred to the surviving person with a copy of the Death Certificate. Your lawyers will let you know what you need to do.

Explain the estate administration process

Your solicitors can provide general information on the process of administering an estate, including the time-frames and the role and duties of being an executor.

If you have any follow-up questions regarding your first meeting with an estate lawyer, please contact the author, Mimi Lewell by phone on 09 837 6831 or email mimi.lewell@smithpartners.co.nz

Do you need assistance administering a deceased estate?

Let our empathetic experts guide you through the process — contact NZ Estate Law specialist, Mimi Lewell today to set up an appointment.

email Mimi
+64 9 837 6840

About the author

Mimi is a highly experienced estates administrator, who combines expert knowledge with empathy and meticulous attention to detail. Mimi is a compassionate guide through the process of administering a loved one’s estate, easing their stress and the burden for executors.
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