Trusts

The Trusts Act 2019 passed on 30 July 2019 and will replace the Trustee Act 1956 with the purpose of making the law more accessible to both trustees and beneficiaries of trusts. The Trusts Act will come into effect in January 2021. While this might seem a long time, there is a lot that trustees should be considering as a result of the new Act and time could pass very quickly. The new rules will apply both to new trusts and existing trusts, and it will be advisable for existing trusts to be reviewed and in some cases possibly varied or wound up.

The new Act will impact a large number of New Zealanders as estimates are that there are between 300,000 and 500,000 trusts in New Zealand.

Broadly speaking, as well as modernising trust legislation, the Trusts Act increases rights and protections for beneficiaries but at the same time imposes more responsibility and prescriptive requirements on the trustees of family trusts. The changes are likely to make trusts more transparent for beneficiaries but also more intensive to administer for trustees, and could lead to changes both to trust documentation and administration.

Our team of specialist lawyers is at the forefront of New Zealand Trust law, with expertise and capability across a broad spectrum of Trust issues.

Protect, manage, and pass on. We make sure that these key principles of Trust structures are put in place at any scale, from high exposure farming and property ventures, through to families and businesses. We deal with issues such as succession planning, relationship property, business and asset protection, and charitable trusts. Our holistic approach means we are able to offer an end to end service, beginning with initial advice and structuring, then adding value by working hand in hand with clients by planning and regularly adapting to change over time.

Like every venture, business, or family, every Trust is unique, and we understand the importance of building a relationship with our clients and structuring Trusts in accordance with their specific requirements and needs. Our commitment to our clients is reflected in our ongoing relationships that we build, and our long history of acting for families over several generations helping to manage their wealth. Our lawyers can also add integrity, impartiality and balance to Trusts, by acting as independent trustees.

We are as comfortable in Trust structuring and management as we are when more direct action is required.  This may be due to family conflict, a change in circumstances or the need for clarity around rights and obligations. Our expertise in litigation and dispute resolution is comprehensive, and our team has been involved in many significant trust cases where we have reached excellent outcomes.  

With this in mind, we pride ourselves on our ability to foresee issues during the setup phase, and also build in flexibility for future adaptation at minimal cost.