New Zealand Law Society - Update on delays in probate processing

Update on delays in probate processing

Over the past few months, lawyers have provided us with feedback and concerns about delays in the processing of probate applications. We have raised these concerns with the Registrar and Court manager, including the suggestion of increasing the threshold for requiring probate or letters of administration before a deceased’s funds can be uplifted.

Efforts have been made to address the factors contributing to these delays, including the recruitment of new staff, and the Registrar and Court Manager of the Wellington High Court has now shared this update. Lawyers are invited to make suggestions for streamlining the probate process.

Update from the Registrar and Court Manager - Changes to Probate processing

Around 100 probate applications are received each day. Over the past 18 months, the Probate team has been unable to consistently process applications for probate in a timely manner and there is a significant backlog. To combat this, we are making changes to ensure most probate applications are completed within our target of 15 working days.

We have simplified our internal administration process to speed up the processing of applications when they are received, so that applications can be sent to a Registrar for consideration more quickly.

We are also dividing the staff responsible for considering probate applications into two groups. One group is focusing on processing aged files and the rest will be processing the cases received each day. This means while we clear the backlog you may not receive grants in the order you filed them. We are taking this step because we need to act to stop more files becoming aged. We expect all aged cases will be processed by either being granted or minuted by the end of February 2024. Following this, we expect the Probate team will be able to consistently process probate applications within 15 working days.

We plan to make further changes to the effectiveness and efficiency of the probate process in 2024. We are interested in any suggestions you have for how the process can be streamlined. Please email with your suggestions or if you would like to be contacted to provide feedback as part of this process.

We thank you for your patience while we work on a sustainable solution.