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What are the new trust law changes?

The laws governing Trusts in New Zealand are undergoing significant changes. The Bill will have a major impact on the way Trusts operate and are managed in New Zealand.

A real concern for people with Trusts is the obligations the Bill places on trustees to provide information about the Trust to the beneficiaries of the Trust. 

The Bill creates a presumption that Trustees must notify every beneficiary of certain basic trust information, including the fact that: 

  • they are a beneficiary
  • the names and contact details of the trustees
  • when there are any changes to the trustees
  • of their rights to request trust information

This presumption is designed to ensure that beneficiaries have adequate information to be able to hold trustees accountable and enforce the terms of the trust deed.

Previously, a beneficiary would not necessarily be aware that they were named as a beneficiary. 

These disclosure requirements are likely to be a concern to many settlors and trustees who had not intended, when setting up a trust, that the trustees would be required to provide such information to
beneficiaries. 

This is particularly so in older trusts, where it was  common for wide classes of extended family members to be named as beneficiaries, such as grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews, along with the spouses or de facto partners of such extended family members.

If you would like a review of your Trust in light of these changes, please get in touch. 

To see progress on the bill, click here.