A Will is confidential information that belongs to the Will-maker. It takes effect only upon the death of the Will-maker. Without the Will-maker's consent, no one is entitled to a copy of the Will before it expires. The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2008 requires lawyers to keep client information confidential. However, a person's property lawyer or property manager can request a copy of the Will.
Property attorneys and property managers can get the court to approve a new Will in NZ. They also need to be aware of any existing Wills in case they accidentally sell or dispose of an asset that was specifically given under the Will.
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You may want to give a copy of your Will to certain people when you are still alive. These people could include your spouse, partner, executors, and others you have named in the Will. You may also wish to inform them who have the Will. This will save your family time searching for your Will after your death.
Distribution of the estate
Many people believe that the estate proceeds can be distributed as soon as probate has been obtained. It is not always true. In New Zealand, it is best to wait approximately six months before you distribute the estate. This gives executors time to notify them of any estate claims, property sales, and estate matters.
In most cases, if there is a claim on an estate, the claimant must inform the executor within six months after the grant of probate. Executors could be held responsible if the claim is filed within six months of distribution. In certain cases, distributions can be ordered back into an estate.