Changes to trust law are coming

There are changes coming to trust law for the first time in decades.  If you’re the settlor or trustee of a trust, it’s important that you understand the key changes and how they may impact your trust.

The Trust Bill aims to make trust law more accessible for New Zealanders. While the Bill clarifies and restates a lot of existing law, there are also some big changes. It will increase beneficiaries’ rights and raise the bar on what’s expected of trustees, and the days of the family trust being private will be over.  

The Bill is still in draft form and is likely to become law at the end of this year or early next year, replacing the Trustee Act 1956. Once it becomes law, there will be an 18-month transition period before your trust must comply.

It’s a good time to start thinking about your trust and what this might mean for you. Public Trust is the largest trustee business in New Zealand, with specialist expertise in trusts. We’ve been helping lead the way with the Trust Bill by making submissions with our customers in mind. Given the nature of the proposed changes and the thousands of customers that will be impacted, we’re beginning to drive awareness and understanding of these changes. Public Trust wants to continue to help and protect our customers for the future.

The key changes

While the Bill is still draft, it’s unlikely these key principles will change. We’ll be keeping you informed along the way.

Things to start thinking about

While the Bill is still draft, it’s unlikely these key principles will change. We’ll be keeping you informed along the way.

  • Are you comfortable with the increased information that will be provided to beneficiaries? If not, is a trust still the right option for you?
  • The reasons why you set up the trust initially – are these still relevant now?
  • If you put the trust in place for relationship property protection, will the trust give you the protection you need? Do you have a relationship property agreement (sometimes called a “pre-nup” or contracting out agreement)? If not, do you need one?
  • As a trustee, are you willing and able to undertake the increased obligations that will be expected of a trustee? Do you need Public Trust to take on more of the responsibilities?

It’s estimated that there are nearly 500,000 trusts in New Zealand – one of the highest number of trusts per capita in the world. With these changes and the spotlight on trusts, that number is expected to significantly reduce.

More questions?

See our frequently asked questions about informing beneficiaries, exiting trusts, getting a professional trustee and more.

Trust Bill FAQs

How we can help

We can review your trust and work alongside you to consider your options for the best way forward. We can do this even if you’re not a current customer of Public Trust. If you want to keep your trust but not be a trustee, we may be able to help by acting as your professional trustee. We’re here to assist you in planning for the future to ensure your needs are met.

If you’re a Public Trust customer, you can start this conversation at your next trustees meeting, or just whenever you feel like it. We will also be keeping our customers informed by hosting seminars on the Trust Bill – we’ll be in touch closer to the time. In the meantime, you can follow this site for updates on how the Bill is progressing as well as any other things you need to think about and timelines.

Contact us about the Trust Bill