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Wills and applications for probate

09 October 2017 - By Geoff Adlam

There is no agreed information on how many New Zealanders have wills, or how many make a will each year. Public Trust has a good idea but it closely guards its research. Its latest report says it has a 16% market share of the wills market and 10.8% of the probate market.

While some people under 18 can make wills, the best starting point is the 3.6 million people who are aged 18 or more. Public Trust says 50% of New Zealanders over 18 do not have a will – meaning that at any time there are around 1.8 million potential willmakers, most of whom will eventually make a will. A Consumer magazine report in 2012 said about 5% of us die intestate – which works out at about 1,500 intestacies annually (based on 30,000 deaths each year).  

If New Zealanders made wills in the same proportion as people in the United Kingdom (where 1.8 million wills are written each year), there would be 131,500 wills made each year in New Zealand.

The Wellington High Court Probate Unit (which manages applications for probate nationally) has provided the following information on applications for probate and other estate-related lodgings.

Applications to High Court, calendar year
Application type20152016
Letters of administration1,0291,058
Option B - s61(3) election not to make application for division524547
Election to administer with will annexed530499
Letters of administration with will annexed212207
Election to administer6146
Option A - s61(2) election to make application for division2014

Section 14 Wills Act Applications

The Wellington High Court registry manages national applications for probate. While applications under section 14 of the Wills Act 2007 (to declare a will valid) may be lodged in other registries, the Wellington registry provided the following information on section 14 applications made to the Wellington High Court. This indicates a marked increase in such applications.

Section 14 Applications for order declaring will valid, Wellington High Court

Application20152016First half 2017
For order declaring will valid244329


Last updated on the 9th October 2017