Edmonds Judd

wills

Trusts Bill

Some key proposals

In late 2013, the Law Commission completed a report recommending that a new Trusts Act replace the Trustee Act 1956. The public consultation phase began last December with the release of the exposure draft Bill. It is intended that the new legislation will be the primary source of trust law in New Zealand. We outline below some key proposals.

trustsbill

Definition

Most trusts in New Zealand are established with a written trust deed or other document such as a Will. These are known as ‘express trusts.’ The Bill only applies to express trusts. Characteristics of express trusts are defined in the Bill as:

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Your Will

funeral

Who pays for your funeral?

Most Wills have a clause directing the executors to pay funeral expenses as well as other usual estate liabilities. Often there is also a clause saying whether you want burial or cremation. Are these directions binding?

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familyargument

How you can help avoid a claim on your own estate.

In December 2015 the Sunday Star Times reported on a dispute amongst the members of the Ropati family in respect of their mother’s estate. The article contains the following statements:

“Figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that the number of disputes over wills rose by nearly a third in just two years … In 2012 there were 252 contested wills, and last year the figure reached 325 … Claims against estates can be brought by widows, widowers, de-facto partners, children, step-children and grandchildren … A claimant has to prove that the deceased failed to discharge a moral duty to provide for him or her … In one extreme case, two sisters battling over their mother’s $80,000 estate took their fight to the Supreme Court … The dispute between Judith Guerin and Marta Hayes lasted more than five years.”

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When the changes to marriage law came into effect on 19 August 2013, we were asked an interesting question, “If a couple who were in a civil union decide to ‘upgrade’ to a marriage, will that mean that their Wills are cancelled?” It seems that the risk of accidentally revoking your Will by getting married is no longer reserved only for heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples now have access to the same unintended consequences of marriage.  Continue reading