Trusts Act 2019 – what it means

If you have a trust or are a trustee, it’s really important that you know about recent changes to trust law in New Zealand.

The Trusts Act 2019 passed on 30 July 2019 and replaces the Trustee Act 1956.

Read the Trusts Act 2019

The Act clarifies and modernises existing trust law and comes with some significant changes.

What do I need to know?

The Trusts Act puts into law the duties of trustees and requires much greater transparency around trust activity.

Trustees face increased compliance requirements.

Beneficiaries now need to be told that they are a beneficiary of a trust and regularly provided with information about the trust without them needing to request it. Information can only be withheld in exceptional circumstances.

The age of majority for when a beneficiary will be entitled to the balance of their trust will change from 20 years to 18 years of age.

What does it mean for my trust?

Trusts are an important part of estate planning and provide an excellent option for managing assets under the right circumstances.

However, for trusts existing before the Trusts Act, it could mean that:

  • compliance duties will increase the time and cost of administering some trusts, meaning some are no longer cost-effective
  • greater transparency will put things in the open that some trust owners might prefer to keep private.

What should you think about?

If you’re a trust settlor or trustee you need to start administering your trust in line with the new law from 30 January 2021.

We recommend thinking about whether:

  • you’re willing and able to undertake the increased obligations
  • you’re comfortable with the increased information provided to beneficiaries
  • the reasons for setting up the trust are still relevant
  • the trust will offer the same protection
  • the trust will still be cost-effective with the extra trust compliance requirements.

How can we help?

Public Trust offers a trust review service to help anyone wanting to discuss the best way forward for their trust.

The service is set up specifically with the Trusts Act in mind. It’s ideal for anyone who isn’t sure whether their trust is still relevant under the new legislation or is unsure of their duties.

We can also step in to provide professional trustee services.

If you’d like to find out more about our review service, discuss the Trusts Act more generally or where Public Trust can help, give us a call on 0800 371 471 or email

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