Taking care of your personal estate and assets is one of the most important things you can do. We will work with you to create a sound, fully protected plan that leaves nothing to chance – both during your lifetime and after your death.
Are you thinking about setting up a family trust? Many people come to us because they are confused about whether they really need one. A trust can be an excellent way to protect your assets, however sometimes there is a better, easier and more affordable way to protect your assets. Your estate plan may be as simple as a well drafted will, or it may extend to trusts and relationship property agreements designed to protect your assets.
Alternatively, you may already have a family trust which would benefit from a bit of a tune up. Cases of mis-managed trusts are always making the news. We can help ensure yours is set up to work as intended.
We can also review your family trust and advise you on whether it is still needed. If the trust's purpose has ceased we can assist you to simplify your affairs by winding up your family trust.
We also provide professional trustee services and ongoing trust administration. As families and circumstances change so does the need to regularly review and update the structures and documentation in place. We will assist you to fully and properly review your affairs to ensure the best possible outcome.
Come and talk to us about your wishes for your assets and we will work with you to structure a plan which achieves your goals.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a trust, and what does it mean when it is described as a discretionary trust?
A trust is not a separate legal entity or person, like a company or an individual. A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which the settlor(s) gives the trustee(s) the right to hold title to property or assets for the beneficiary(ries). A trust has a deed which sets out how the trustees are to operate and how trust assets are to be administered.
A discretionary trust is whereby the trustee(s) can exercise their discretion as to which beneficiaries receive a distribution/benefit from the trust and what those distributions/benefits are. Beneficiaries can receive distributions of income or capital from the trust. Most family trusts are discretionary trusts.
Do I need a family trust?
Forming a trust is a way of protecting assets and accumulating wealth for future generations. A trust is set up for many reasons, with the most common being:
- estate planning to provide for, and benefit, future generations;
- to manage the assets of a family member who is unable to manage their own financial affairs;
- protection against relationship property and third-party claims; and
- retirement planning.
Trusts need to be properly administered and must comply with legal requirements. We can advise you if setting up a trust may be the right option for you.
We no longer use our family trust; can we get rid of it?
Most trust deeds have a dissolution or winding up clause, which will specify whether the trust can be wound up early and in what circumstances. Reasons for winding up a family trust early include:
- the reason for setting up the trust in the first place no longer exists (e.g. the trust was established to fund the education of certain offspring, and they have now ended their education);
- the trust was set up for the benefit of parents and children, but the parents are now deceased - so the children might decide to wind up the trust and distribute the assets among themselves;
- the trust was set up by a couple, and that couple has decided to separate;
- the trustee(s) think there is no longer any benefit to having a family trust.
There can be crucial implications of winding up the trust which need to be considered before a decision is made to wind up a trust; for example, the distribution of the assets may impact your chances of qualifying for a residential care subsidy. We can explain and discuss these implications with you, and weigh up the pros and cons of winding up your family trust.
Why is it important that your family trust is administered?
Once a trust has been established, it must be administered properly. A family trust achieves its objectives by separating ownership of the family's assets from your personal assets. If the trust is not administered properly to recognise this separation, the trust could be challenged as a sham trust by a creditor, relationship partner, the IRD or Work and Income New Zealand. If such a challenge succeeds, the benefits available through the trust structure will be lost.
What is an independent trustee, and should our family trust have one?
While the law requires all trustees to act independently and impartially, the term ‘independent trustee’ is used to describe a trustee who is not a beneficiary of the trust and cannot benefit from the assets of the trust.
An independent trustee is highly recommended as they can play an important role in ensuring that all beneficiaries of the trust are treated impartially and fairly. This is particularly important in family situations where competing interests and family tensions can place trustees under strain.
An independent trustee should have professional expertise and skills that will assist the other trustees with decision making and administering the trust. While there will be fees associated with having a professional trustee, the right independent trustee can be seen as an ‘insurance policy’ against attacks against the trust by disgruntled family members or outside parties (such as creditors) and help with managing the trust assets and ensuring the trust is properly administered. We can help set up an independent trustee company for your trust.
I recently had the privilege of working with Julie on a recent legal matter, and I can’t express enough how grateful I am for the exceptional service I received. From start to finish Julie demonstrated unwavering professionalism, expertise and dedication that has truly set her apart. From our very first consultation, it was evident that Julie had a deep understanding of the legal complexities involved in my case. Julie patiently listened to my concerns, explained the legal processes in a clear and understandable manner, and outlined a strategic plan to achieve the best possible outcome. What impressed me the most was Julie's commitment to my case. She was incredibly responsive, promptly answering all my questions and concerns, and keeping me updated on every development along the way. I never felt left in the dark or unsure about the status of my case. In the end, thanks to Julie's dedication and legal expertise, we achieved a positive outcome that exceeded my expectations. I can't thank her enough for the peace of mind she provided during a challenging time in my life. If you're seeking a lawyer who combines legal excellence with genuine compassion for their clients, I wholeheartedly recommend Julie. I would not hesitate to enlist her services again if needed in the future.
Julie has acted as our lawyer for a number of years. She has represented our interests on property conveyancing i.e. purchasing, selling and also reviewing build and development contracts. Julie also helped us create our Wills and EPA with good advice on how we might structure them in a clear and concise manner. We have no hesitation in recommending Julie. We have found her to be professional, approachable and respectful, and she explains 'legal language' In layman's terms and is always responsive to our queries.
I’m very appreciative of the legal advice and representation I have received from Julie Bremner. I have secured her services over the past eight years and she continues to exceed my expectations. Julie is always there to help swiftly and with a great degree of experience, knowledge and professionalism whenever I need her. I will continue to recommend her to clients, friends and family.
We recently sold and purchased a home with the assistance of Che Bunce. Che was first class to deal with, he made the process very smooth and simple, ironing out the inevitable challenges, going out of his way to help us through all the details. I highly recommend Che and look forward to receiving his help in the future.
We worked closely with Che Bunce through the process of buying our first home, as well as selling, and then buying our second. Che kept us completely up to date throughout the entire process, every time, and there we no surprises or shocks along the way! Highly recommended.
"Thank you Stacey at Base Law, you've made the handling of the purchase of my property very streamlined. Communication throughout was excellent."
"We have utilized Stacey’s legal expertise for a number of years for numerous property transactions. She is excellent to work with, has a great understanding of all legal requirements for a variety of different transaction’s relating to property. We have recommended her services to friends and family. The feedback from them has also been very positive."
"We have worked with John for nearly 2 years. In that time he has been extremely helpful in guiding us through a complicated and often delicate legal process. He has consistently offered sound, well-reasoned and pragmatic advice. In the face of a number of frustrations, he has remained steadfast in his commitment to moving our case towards a resolution with skill and patience. We feel extremely fortunate to have found John and would not hesitate in recommending his services."
"We have employed the legal services of Belinda in several different capacities over a number of years. Belinda is astute, knowledgeable and respectful, always ensuring that we fully understand all relevant avenues and implications to the matters being dealt with. We have always found Belinda to be so easy to relate to and genuinely concerned for our best interests. Belinda is our legal go to and we absolutely recommend her to anyone seeking legal advice and guidance or work. We are so grateful for her."
"Belinda’s legal advice and guidance has been invaluable to our business over the past few years. She is very approachable, thorough and responsive. We highly recommend her and look forward to our continued working relationship."
"Belinda has been my solicitor for over 7 years now and I couldn’t recommend her enough. Her attention to detail, and willingness to go the extra mile has always been above and beyond my expectations. Belinda has been an excellent and supportive lawyer throughout our 7 years together and has always been honest, hard-working, and willing to help whenever I have needed her. I highly recommend using Belinda, you won’t be disappointed."
"Jane really helped me cut through the emotional distress and confusion I was feeling and focus on the practical resolution of the issue through the legal system that I was unsure how to approach. I really appreciated the combination of Jane's expert knowledge and skills, the transparency in services and associated costs provided upfront, as well as the compassion I felt in our interactions."
"Belinda has been amazing, we can't thank her enough. Everytime we need her she has hit the ground running and delivered. We cannot recommend her more."
"We've had a number of experiences with different lawyers over the years and I can say without hesitation that Georgia has by far been the best to work with. She goes the extra mile any chance she gets and we felt completely supported and informed through every step of our dealings with her."
"As new business owners with a young family we wanted clarity on how to best protect our family assets and also wanted to establish our wills. Georgia from the start was full of knowledge, that really felt personalised to our situation. After the first phone call with Georgia, we felt like we were getting answers to our questions and had real solutions to our needs. We feel like we have sorted out some of the most important aspects of our lives, and it allows us to move forward knowing that we are more financially secure as a family and more prepared for things that life might throw at us."
"Jane Zohrab was sincere and informative. She was prompt and so easy to talk to. Thank you!"
"Toni has been wonderful and made each experience with her super easy and straight forward."
"Toni at Base Law was very easy to work with and answered every big or small question we had in mind. Especially with being a first home buyer, she made every step smooth and simple. All round lovely to work with as well."
"Thank you Nicholas for the great service you provided Extreme Plumbing & Gas with a business/legal dispute. From the start I appreciated your very professional approach and great communication. You made the entire process very easy and stress free. It really made a difference how you were always responsive to my calls or emails. I cannot recommend you enough."
"Georgia has been such a pleasure to work with. We had unique requirements and needed flexibility. Georgia gave great advice, helped us with next steps and made what could have been a stressful process a lot easier. We would definitely work with Georgia again in the future."
"Suzie has a natural ability to put clients at ease, build trust and show compassion. She was patient and thorough while reviewing our parents’ affairs, setting up wills and enduring powers of attorney. She explained complicated jargon into understandable language providing sound advice which we acted upon. Suzie treated us as part of her family and we’re very happy to recommend her to anyone needing caring legal services."
"During the process of purchasing my first home, I've been blown away by Suzie's professionalism, approachability and value for money - I'd highly recommend Base Law."
"Rosie, thank you again for the amazing support you have given us through this process. It has been an overwhelming, exciting, scary process but also an amazing learning curve for us - and it has been a much more enjoyable process having you on our team and going the extra mile where you have! You will be highly recommended to anyone we know looking at a trustworthy, friendly, efficient and professional lawyer."
"Suzie, thank you again. You have been awesome and so easy to deal with, understanding my needs, keeping me up to date and acting on behalf during these unusual circumstances."
"Suzie, it has been a god send having you represent the family. Your assistance during the hardest of times during the lockdown period is invaluable. I will definitely employ your services for any legal matters that should arise, and recommend you to everyone that I know."
"Rosie was compassionate and thoughtful. She did not approach the issues with only “lawyer talk”, but as a sensitive human. We had complete confidence we were dealing with someone who really understood what she was doing. Professionally, as an accountant, I have dealt with many solicitors. I can say, based on my experience, that Rosie is a top practitioner."
"Suzie took care of our Family Trust arrangements, along with our respective enduring powers of attorney and wills. We have found her to be very professional, along with being very pleasant to deal with."
"Suzie clearly delivered to myself and others a focused and friendly approach to all the issues presented to her. We had some older family member matters to resolve; Wills, Trust issues, License to Occupy, etc.. Suzie provided exceptional service, concise and sound advice which we accepted and followed through in the execution of the required legal documents. Suzie is professional, focused and pragmatic in providing intelligent legal solutions and recommendations."
"Our family has used Rosie for everything from wills and family trusts to house purchases and sales. I can absolutely recommend her, she is easy to deal with, communicates well, makes things simple and to top it off is a lovely person to work with."
“Rosie helped us with our wills and powers of attorney and she made it such an easy process for us. She gave us a lot of advice and explained different ways we could do it, all along with a friendly professionalism. I cannot recommend her enough and will definitely be using her services in the future.”