Legal Insights, Uncategorized

A new Immigration Bill: What’s in it for work and student visa holders?

On 5 May 2020, the Minister of Immigration presented an urgent Immigration Bill to Parliament to ensure that the Government can respond appropriately and efficiently to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing additional flexibility in the immigration system.

The Immigration (Covid-19) Response Amendment Bill will enable the government to amend visa conditions for groups of people, extend visas for groups of people for varying periods of time (enabling processing to be staggered), stop people overseas from making visa applications while it is not possible to travel to New Zealand due to border restrictions, and provide the ability to refuse entry to people who are deemed to hold a visa.

Work visa holders

As it was already discussed in our last article (Post-lockdown: Impact on migrant workers), we could expect many migrant workers to lose their jobs. In fact, some of our clients have already indicated plans to lay off some staff, the majority of whom are migrant workers.

In order to address the increasing number of job losses, the Bill will be useful to amend employer specific conditions of work visas. This means unemployed migrant workers might be able stay in New Zealand, especially those who are unable to return to their home country due to border closures. If these workers are able to stay in New Zealand, then other industries that rely heavily on migrant labour will be able to find more workers within the country.

Given the number of business permanently shutting down, work visa holders could struggle find a new job suitable to their skills. Even if they are fortunate enough to find a new job, their pathway to residency might be affected unless they re-train and are able to match their qualifications and previous work experience with their new found job.

Student visa holders

There is a possibility that the Bill may affect international student visa holders who were given the right to work part time while studying. With the increasing rate of unemployment in New Zealand, international students might lose their right to work as the government fills vacant jobs with New Zealand residents or citizens.

Conclusion

On the one hand, we understand the significance of this legislation in helping to manage the backlog of visa applications being processed (even before the Covid-19 crisis began). In addition, the Bill will give Immigration New Zealand a way to prevent any foreseeable problems in late September when all the visas that were automatically extended under the Epidemic Management Notice expire.

On the other hand, this new Bill as discussed above could be of concern to working migrants, their employers, and international students.

This Bill is set to become law on Friday, 15 May 2020.

If you require any specific immigration advice that may affect your current visa or future application due to these changes to New Zealand immigration policies, please contact Oneal Mendoza (omendoza@corbanrevell.co.nz) or one of our lawyers to assist you.

The advice above is current at the time of writing, 9 May 2020. This article is published for general information purposes only. Legal content in this article is necessarily of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice

Legal Insights, Uncategorized

Key Changes to Trust Law

The new Trusts Act 2019 will come into force on 30 January 2021. This is the first major reform to trust law in New Zealand which provides greater transparency of trustee activities and increased trust compliance requirements.

If you are a settlor or a trustee of a trust (or family trust), it is important to review your trust in light of any personal, legal and policy changes provided under the new Act.

Here are some of key changes to the new Act.

Formalised roles of Trustee and Beneficiary

The Trusts Act incorporates a new concept by classifying the duties as either ‘mandatory’ or ‘default’.

Mandatory duties

Mandatory duties must be performed by the trustee and may not be modified or excluded by the terms of the trust. Otherwise, it may be evidence that there was no intention to create a trust and will undermine the asset protection strategy if the trust is ever challenged.

The mandatory duties include that the trustees must:

  1. Know the terms of the trust
  2. Act in accordance with the terms of the trust
  3. Act honestly and in good faith
  4. Act in the interest of the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the trust deed
  5. Exercise their powers for a proper purpose 

Default duties

These default duties include a general duty of care, which the trustees must perform unless they have been excluded or modified in the trust deed.

Some of the general duties of care include:

  • Duty to invest prudently
  • Duty not to exercise power for own benefit
  • Duty to consider exercise of power
  • Duty to include to avoid conflict of interest
  • Duty not to profit
  • Duty to act unanimously

If your current trust deeds already excluded some of the default duties, this will continue to be acceptable provided that the exclusions fit within the permitted limits. 

Obligation to give certain information to beneficiaries

The Act creates a presumption that a trustee must make ‘basic trust information’ available to every beneficiary and ‘trust information’ available to beneficiaries who request it.  The purpose of such disclosures is to hold the trustees accountable for their duties and obligations.

“Trust information” is information that it reasonably necessary for the beneficiary to have to enable the trust to be enforced. However, before providing the trust information, the trustees must consider a range of factors and if the trustee reasonably considers that the information should not be disclosed, then it may withhold the information.Those factors, amongst other things, include:

  • The nature and interests of the beneficiary (such as the likelihood of the beneficiary receiving trust property in the future)
  • Whether the information is subject to personal or commercial confidentiality
  • The intentions of the settlor when the trust was established
  • The age and circumstances of the beneficiary in question and the other beneficiaries of the trust
  • The effect on trustees and other beneficiaries of the trust of providing the information; and
  • Other factors a trustee reasonably considers is relevant.

Trustees will have to carefully consider any decision not to disclose information.

Replacement of the Rules Against Perpetuities

Previously the maximum duration was 80 years after which the property had to be vested upon beneficiaries. The Act now establishes a definite, extended maximum duration of 125 years for most trusts. 

Record retention requirements

The Act prescribes what information trustees should keep and for how long. Each trustee will be obliged to keep copies of the trust deed and any variations.

Trustees must keep their own copies of ‘core trust documents’ or at least one of the other trustees holds all of the core trust documents and will make them available on request.

Restrictions on exemption and indemnity clauses

The Act makes it clear that trust deeds must not limit a trustee’s liability or provide an indemnity for dishonesty, wilful misconduct or gross negligence.

Any terms in a trust deed that purport to limit the liability of the trustee or to indemnify them in breach of these provisions is invalid. Trustees should be aware of these restrictions when acting.  

If you are involved in or thinking of establishing a trust, we recommend talking with us about how the new Trusts Act will affect you.

Contact:

This article is published for general information purposes only. Legal content in this article is necessarily of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

Uncategorized

Do new migrants need a Will?

Many newly settled migrants, particularly those who were recently granted a permanent residency, often overlook the importance of having a Will. For some of them, the concept of making a Will is unheard of, and to some extent not a common practice back in their home country.

A Will is a legal document that outlines how personal assets are to be distributed after death. Wills can also identify the persons who the deceased wishes to look after the deceased’s children.

Migrants often spend their lifetime building up their estate and preparing a new life in a new country and yet sadly when they die they unknowingly leaving their assets in the hands of the state.

If a person dies without a Will, the Administration Act 1969 dictates who will receive the assets (also known as the deceased’s estate), unless that person did not have significant assets or held those assets jointly with another person such as a married couple owning their home.

When a person has any asset worth over $15,000 or real estate of any value in his or her own individual name, then this is an asset that requires a Grant of Administration for transfer of ownership when that person dies. This is issued by the High Court of New Zealand.

Assets may include bank or savings accounts, KiwiSaver, a life insurance policy, shares, or any property.

This means anyone (even those who hold work or student visa and have significant savings account in New Zealand) will be in the same position as everyone else if they do not have a Will.

KiwiSaver funds for first home property

Many, if not all, new migrants dream of owning their first home in New Zealand. For first home buyers a KiwiSaver scheme helps them to buy a house (or land). The annual contribution of the government plus their employer’s contribution makes this scheme a great way to kick start saving money for a mortgage deposit.

By the time these first home buyers are eligible to purchase their first home, the KiwiSaver funds are normally their most significant asset. And since Kiwisaver accounts are always held in a person’s individual name, if they have $15,000 or more in KiwiSaver accounts that person will be required to apply for a Letter of Administration (if you don’t have a Will) or Probate (if you have a Will) in order to access the KiwiSaver funds.

What happens when you don’t have a Will?

If the estate has assets more than $15,000 and you don’t have a Will, someone needs to apply to the Court to be the administrator of the estate.

The procedure for obtaining a grant of administration (Letters of Administration) is more complicated and expensive and takes longer if the deceased did not have a Will. The person entitled to apply to administer the estate is decided by the Administration Act 1969 and may not be the person who the deceased wanted to deal with the estate. This can be a significant problem, particularly when the deceased has a family from more than one relationship.

When the Letter of Administration has been granted, only then the administrator will be able to request the bank or KiwiSaver provider to have deceased’s money/funds released.

Also bear in mind that all the assets do not automatically go to the surviving spouse or partner unless held jointly. There is a limit on what a partner or spouse may receive. In some instances, people are surprised when they find out that part of the estate goes to their in-laws. The Administration Act 1969 provides the formula on who gets what, and how much.

Are Will kits in the shops effective?

Nowadays, anyone can find a ready-made form for drawing up their own Will, either online or in major stationery shops. These Will kits appear to be a cost effective option instead of asking a lawyer to prepare the Will. However, the cost of getting a lawyer to draw up the Will is relatively small, especially compared with what can go wrong if a Will is drafted poorly.

If the Will is unclear or ambiguous in nature, or if it hasn’t been signed and witnessed properly there could be a lot of headaches for family and friends. It often ends up costing thousands of dollars if the High Court has to interpret or rectify the Will when the estate needs to be administered.

If you’re uncertain on how to make your Will, you may contact Oneal Mendoza or one of our lawyers to assist you.

This article is published for general information purposes only. Legal content in this article is necessarily of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice

Legal Insights

Immediate changes to executing a Will during Alert Levels 3 and 4

Immediate changes: Executing a Will during Alert Levels 3 and 4

With many New Zealanders isolating alone or in a bubble that comprises their immediate family, spouse or other relatives, they may not be able to arrange for two other adults to be physically present to witness. The Wills Act provides that any person who witnesses a will or whose spouse/partner witnesses a will cannot benefit from that will.

To overcome that problem on 16 April 2020, the Government passed the Epidemic Preparedness (Wills Act 2007- Signing and Witnessing of Wills) Immediate Modification Order 2020.

The Order allows the will-maker during Alert Levels 3 and 4 to use adults who are not in the will-maker’s physical presence to witness the will-maker’s signature via audio-visual link such as Skype, Zoom, Messenger or Face Time.

We note that the Order requires that the will-maker and witnesses have access to simultaneous audio-visual conferencing capabilities.

It is also important to keep in mind that the video should be positioned so that the camera captures the signature being applied to the document. Parties must also have access to a printer and tools to scan or share a photograph of the executed document immediately after signing.

Should you need any assistance in executing (or preparing) your Will, please contact Tom Allen (TAllen@corbanrevell.co.nz) or Oneal Mendoza (omendoza@corbanrevell.co.nz

This article is published for general information purposes only. Legal content in this article is necessarily of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

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News and Events

Covid-Safe at Alert Level 3

We are committed to being Covid-Safe at Level 3, and our staff will still be working remotely where possible.

At Level 3, MBIE requires that client meetings still need to be by telephone or AV/video call (the list of exceptions to this rule is very small and unlikely to apply to us). The good news is we have been having plenty of  video call meetings over lockdown and our systems are working well!

Property settlements are all happening through Level 3 and we have clients moving house again.

Also, if you have been a client for more than 12 months we can complete refinances for you in Level 3, so please get in touch with us, or get your banker or broker to get in touch with us, this is no problem at all.

Our premises are all cleaned and ready for Level 2  and we have our health and safety plan in place, so we’ll look forward to seeing you all again soon in “real life”.

Until then, keep safe and we hope you are all keeping well out there, enjoying this beautiful Autumn weather.

The team at Corban Revell