Have your say on revamp to 60-year-old trust law

The Ministry of Justice is seeking feedback on a draft Trusts Bill, as part of the Government’s work to update the general law governing trusts.

It’s estimated there are between 300,000 and 500,000 trusts in New Zealand. Ordinary New Zealanders use them to manage their finances, and they form part of the economic backbone of the commercial and social sectors.

The draft Bill will update the Trustee Act 1956, marking the first significant change in 60 years. The proposed improvements include:

  • making it easier for people to understand how to appropriately use trusts to manage their affairs
  • clear mandatory and default trustee duties so people know what their obligations are if they’re involved in managing a trust
  • requirements for trustees to manage and provide information to beneficiaries
  • flexible trustee powers and updated rules
  • clear rules for when people make changes to a trust or wind them up
  • more options for removing and appointing trustees without having to go to court while also preserving people’s ability to ask the courts to intervene to resolve disputes.

Chris Hubscher, general manager civil and constitutional, says the consultation is seeking feedback on specific questions.

“We’re mainly interested in whether the wording and structure of the draft Bill is sufficiently clear or how it could be made clearer, and whether anything may create unintended consequences.

“The intention is that the Bill will not require existing trust deeds to be changed, because the Bill largely restates the existing law. Therefore, we are interested in feedback on how the new law will work for existing trusts.

“We welcome any other comments you may have. Your answers will inform the content of the final Trusts Bill.”

For information about the draft Bill and how to make a submission, visit the Ministry’s online consultation hub at:

Trusts Bill exposure draft consultation(external link)

The deadline for submissions is 5pm, Wednesday, 21 December 2016.

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