When you die, someone has to administer your estate and make sure that your assets (the things you own) get dealt with as appropriate. Your will should appoint executors, who will apply to the High Court for Probate of your will. The Probate confirms that they have the authority to deal with your assets. It is the executors, together with the estate’s lawyer, who will arrange the funeral (if this has not been done by relatives), realise the assets, pay the debts of the estate and finally distribute the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will.
If you have no will, and die intestate, your property will be administered and distributed as prescribed by the Administration Act. Usually a surviving spouse or partner will inherit your property, with children, parents, brothers and sisters, and so on, in accordance with the table in the Act. The administrator of an intestate estate must apply to the High Court for a grant of Letters of Administration. The administrator’s duties are similar to those of the executors.
Your executors or administrators must be conscious of the possibility of someone making a claim against your estate – by a spouse or partner under the Property (Relationships) Act, by children under the Family Protection Act, or by anyone who can prove you promised to leave them a bequest as a reward for services done, under the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act. The executors or administrators will need legal advice for this.