Articles

Personal Matters

A Time to Reflect on Estate/Trust Matters

The current 'lockdown' is unprecedented. In times like these your first priority is to ensure you take care of yourselves, friends and family. However, while it is important to protect those close to you, you should also give consideration to the protection of your assets. Accordingly, it may be an opportune time to review your current estate planning to ensure everything is 'as you would like' and, if you have a trust, to make sure that it aligns with the provisions of the Trusts Act 2019 ("the Act") which was enacted this year but comes into force at the beginning of 2021.
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The Family Trust and the ‘Independent Trustee’

A trust exists to hold assets for a certain purpose. For an ‘ordinary’ family trust, commonly conceptualised as a ‘mum and dad’ trust, the ‘mum and dad’ settlors ordinarily transfer their main home to trustees to hold that property for the benefit of their immediate family group. In this scenario it is common for ‘mum and dad’ to be appointed as trustees. They are additionally named as discretionary beneficiaries to ensure they may benefit from the trust assets throughout their lifetimes as well.
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Getting on Top of Your Legal Affairs – What you Could do During the Lockdown Period

During this unprecedented and unsettling time, there is an opportunity here to take advantage of the phone calls and emails slowing down (for some) and use your time to address those things you have been putting off – a bit like that painting job most people have been meaning to get to.
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Wills for the Lockdown

Can a Will be made from within the Covid-19 virus enforced bubble of self-isolation and social distancing? Extreme events call for extreme challenges and measures no more so than for making a Will right now when the testator is in isolation and no independent witnesses are in the room. Clearly an issue particularly for someone elderly or ill and delay is a concern.
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Is Self-Isolation Pushing you Together or Pulling you Apart?

Feeling stressed or anxious about how Covid-19 (coronavirus) and New Zealand entering alert level 4 with nationwide lockdowns will affect you and your family members? Times of crisis can result in a push-and-pull effect with our personal relationships. They bring people together – only those in your household! - but difficult times can also lead to difficulties arising in our relationships with our, quite literally, nearest and dearest.
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The New Trusts Act and How it Will Affect You as a Trustee

As you may be aware, the Trusts Act ("Act") has received Royal Assent and will come into effect on 30 January 2021. Amongst other things the Act codifies the duties of trustees and requires greater transparency with beneficiaries. It will affect your current trust arrangements. You should consider reviewing, updating and making structural changes to your Trust if necessary, in order to future proof your Trust. The following is a summary of the key changes and how they may affect you.
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Wills

Planning Ahead: Need to make a Will even if you don't think you do?" But I don't have any assets yet" is a common response when making a Will is suggested to twenty-somethings. There is a misconception, among young people in particular, that in order to make a Will, you should have already built up a sizeable asset base. While you may not own a home or have a large un-cracked nest egg, you will almost certainly have a number of assets to protect, including:
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When Charity Does Not Begin at Home and Testamentary Freedom Triumphs

The truism that charity begins at home might have been given a serious knock back going by the recent UK Supreme Court decision concerning an adult daughter's claim against her mother's estate in IIott v Mitson [2017] UKSC 17.
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Will That Do? - Validation of Non-Compliant Wills

Before a deceased's last will can have the legal effect of distributing property to his or her heirs accordingly to its terms, it must be admitted to probate, that is accepted by the High Court as being valid.
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The New Draft Trusts Bill and its Suggested Disclosure Rules - How Could This Affect You?

A new Trusts Bill has recently been released for public consultation. This bill updates and changes various aspects of trust law. One interesting proposed change is the rights beneficiaries have to trust information. The most recent judicial case involving beneficiaries and trust information is Erceg v Erceg [2017] NZSC 28. The Supreme Court did not find that there was a presumption for or against disclosure of trust documents, but that there is an "expectation that basic trust information will be disclosed to a close beneficiary who wants it". The Supreme Court's analysis did differ from the lower Courts. The Supreme Court listed certain factors to take into consideration when courts receive a request for disclosure.
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