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Will My Family Trust Still Protect Me?

The team at Morrison Kent Lawyers have partnered with Informed Investor to answer your legal questions. To ask your questions, email morrison.kent@morrisonkent.com.

5 October 2021

Q: I bought my house in a family trust 12 years ago as protection against relationship property. I am single. Is the trust still an appropriate ownership structure with all the changes made to trust law?

A: This is a great question – taking into account the comprehensive nature of trust law and the many things to consider in your unusual situation.

In simple terms – yes, a trust is still an appropriate ownership structure for protection against any relationship property claims.

However, we’d recommend that you provide your trust deed to a legal specialist in this area of the law to review the terms to ensure it’s still working in your best interest.

Q: l want to know how much it will cost to add someone’s name to act as power of attorney.

A: Legal charges vary from lawyer to lawyer, but at Morrison Kent, we charge $350 per document for an enduring power of attorney.

Enduring Powers of Attorney are a document in which you appoint someone to manage your affairs or make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself.

There are two kinds of enduring power of attorney. One is concerning your personal care and welfare, and the other is with your property.

Our team at Morrison Kent is more than happy to help you prepare and provide advice on your enduring powers of attorney.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss these matters further, please feel free to get in touch.

Q: If I have staff members that only work one or two days a week, are they still going to be entitled to 10 sick days a year? That could mean they could have five to ten weeks off a year..... that’s quite hard to manage.

A: In short, yes, all employees, including part-timers, will be entitled to 10 days’ sick leave moving forward (but when that entitlement kicks in for existing employees will depend on their anniversary date).

On 24 July, the Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Act 2021 (“the Act”) came into force. It increased sick leave entitlements from five days to 10 days per annum (after six months’ employment).

Remember, to be eligible for sick leave; an employee must have:

  • been employed with the same employer for six continuous months (the continuous employment test); or
  • worked for the employer for a period of six months and completed:
    • an average of 10 hours per week; and
    • at least one hour of work every week or 40 hours every month (the six-month work test). The six-month work test is intended to capture casual employees or others who work irregularly.

Note here that if these employees are reaching the six-month work test – they may no longer be truly casual employees – they may have become permanent part-timers by law.

If this raises any red flags for you, we recommend getting advice.

In terms of when the new entitlements kick in:

  • If an employee started work on or after 24 July 2021, they would become entitled to their 10 days of sick leave after completing six months of service (first entitlement date) and then ten days per year on each 12-month anniversary of that date. We refer to this date as their sick leave entitlement anniversary.
  • Employees employed before 24 July 2021 (existing employees) will be entitled to 10 days instead of five at their next sick leave entitlement anniversary (in other words, they do not get it automatically from 24 July 2021).
  • Employees may carry over up to 10 days untaken sick leave to any subsequent 12-month period. The maximum amount of sick leave an employee may accrue is 20 days untaken in any year (unless the employer allows them to accrue more).

If you’d like advice on managing the impact of this new legislation or more information on sick leave entitlements, please get in touch with one of our employment law experts.

We also regularly update our website to keep you informed of these and other legislative changes.

Q: I have so many questions, the main one being do you accept legal aid clients?

A: Yes, we offer legal aid – but only family legal aid for a select range of services.

Legal aid is income and asset-tested, which means your income must fall within the financial eligibility threshold.

The income threshold varies based on the number of dependents you have (children and partner). Income includes wages and salary, as well as any benefits, interest or income received from a trust and any child support payments you may receive.

Legal aid is available for the care of children matters, family violence issues, relationship property, and Oranga Tamariki matters.

Legal aid is not available for matters such as dissolution proceedings or matters that do not involve court proceedings, such as having a Will completed.

If you have a family matter you’d like to discuss with one of our lawyers, please get in touch today. We can help you determine your eligibility for legal aid and the Family Legal Advice Service, and support you through the process.

We regularly produce easy-to-follow, practical content written by our legal teams. These resources can be found on our website, so please feel free to check whether we’ve already covered any of your questions.

Morrison Kent’s legal experts Debbie Dunbar, Tess von Dadelszen and more have contributed general legal information for this Q&A. This information is provided for your general understanding. We recommend you seek legal advice concerning your individual circumstances.

For more information on any of these legal issues, email the team at morrison.kent@morrisonkent.com.

Informed Investor's content comes from sources that Informed Investor magazine considers accurate, but we do not guarantee its accuracy. Charts in Informed Investor are visually indicative, not exact. The content of Informed Investor is intended as general information only, and you use it at your own risk.

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