Travel and living arrangements between New Zealand and the United Kingdom have become more popular over the years (we lawyers are a part of that statistic, particularly prone to spending time in the United Kingdom working early in our careers). As a result, there are many people with assets in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

That means, whichever country you choose to make your home, your assets in the other country require extra administration when you die. Because both New Zealand and the United Kingdom are commonwealth countries, probate for a deceased estate (or letters of administration if the estate didn’t have a valid will) from one country can be resealed in the other. As a commonwealth country, the process is faster and more streamlined than applying for probate in both countries.

If you are dealing with an estate in the United Kingdom with assets in New Zealand, we are experts at resealing United Kingdom probates here in New Zealand. Because we routinely undertake work between the two countries, we also have contacts in the United Kingdom who can assist you with the same questions in the other direction if need be.

What is a reseal?

A reseal is as simple as it sounds. 

When probate or letters of administration are granted, the court which makes that grant “seals” the document by placing a stamp, an imprint or sometimes (as the process was named after) a wax seal on it. The seal turns the document into a valid grant that can be used to unlock the estate assets.  Without it, all you have is a piece of paper that organisations won’t accept to unlock estate assets.

A reseal is when a court in one country (New Zealand in our case) takes a grant of probate or letters of administration made in the court of another country and puts a second seal on it.  That transforms the document into a grant of probate that is only valid in the United Kingdom, for example, to a grant of probate that is valid in both the United Kingdom and New Zealand. 

If you were to present the original grant of probate from the United Kingdom to the bank in New Zealand, they would not accept it and refuse to release the assets.  If you were to get that same grant resealed in New Zealand, the bank would accept it because it would have the New Zealand High Court’s seal on it.

Common issues with a United Kingdom Reseal

We are experiencing a common issue at the moment with UK probates, where the will is not attached, especially given parts of the United Kingdom have recently updated their probate process so that the will is not required to be attached to the probate.

Although this type of probate is perfectly valid within the United Kingdom, it is not enough for our Court in New Zealand to grant a reseal.

For letters of administration, which are granted when there is no will, nothing needs to be attached to the letters of administration for us to arrange a reseal. 

However, with the probate, the will needs to be attached to the probate by the court (for our court to grant a reseal). 

What the court will require if:

  • There is no will attached to the probate, but the court supplied a copy of the will: Confirmation from the court that issued the probate that the will supplied is indeed the deceased’s last will. The confirmation must come from the issuing Court, not from the solicitors that acted to receive it.
  • There is no will attached to the probate, and the Court did not supply a copy of the will: A copy of the will produced in a way that our court can be confident that it is the will associated with the probate. For example, it has a cover letter from the court or has been certified by a court officer.

Between the multiple lockdowns and the London Registry closing last year, receiving a copy of the will has been taking a longer time than usual – we have one particular file where we have been waiting for a copy of the will for seven months!

Accordingly, if you are dealing with an estate with assets in New Zealand and applying for probate in the United Kingdom, it might be wise to request a copy of the will in one of the manners above at the same time you apply for probate. Having this copy ready to go will ensure you are all prepared for the reseal process.

For more information

If you are dealing with an estate where a reseal is required in New Zealand, please contact Jenny Lowe on 04 916 0153 or email Jenny is one of few legal specialists in New Zealand for reseal, probate and letters of administration applications, especially for an international estate with assets in New Zealand. We can make these complex applications simple and painless for you.

UK - Reseals | Morrison Kent Lawyers