Tag Archive for: wills

Parry Field Lawyers has expanded its offering to clients with the opening of a fourth office and a return to the Christchurch CBD, for the first time since the 2011 February earthquake.

It’s nearly 12 years to the day since our team, along with others, were trapped on the upper floors of the 17-storey Forsyth Barr building in Colombo Street and had to be rescued by crane.

The new offices on the first level of the PWC Tower in Cashel Street have been officially opened by Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger, who thanked the firm for its ongoing commitment to Christchurch and in particular for the decision to return to the heart of the city.

“It’s investment by businesses like yours that help drive our economy and support the community,” he said. “Thanks for all the work you do as a legal team to remove barriers and find solutions for your clients.”

The Mayor also congratulated Parry Field on the choice of location by the Bridge of Remembrance. The building at 60 Cashel Street was one of the first significant rebuilds after the earthquake and was designed to 130% of the Building Code.

“It’s a great example of the determination to build better – to create work environments that are safer, stronger, and smarter.”

Parry Field’s Chair, Kris Morrison, formally welcomed the Mayor and guests to the opening, saying the partners are very thankful to all those who have been clients, advisors, friends and supporters of the business over many years.

“It’s a significant moment for us to re-opening city offices.  Up until 22 February in 2011 Parry Field had had offices in the Christchurch CBD continuously from or very close after its original founding in 1948.”

He recalled the moment the earthquake struck; looking from the 15th floor at the huge cloud of dust coming over the city and the wait, eventually being rescued by crane.

“Looking over the edge of the balcony, we had some trepidation about climbing over and into the crane basket, but when it arrived, we climbed in. The trip to the ground was surprisingly quick and smooth. It felt as comfortable as an ordinary lift ride.”

Thinking back to that day and the loss and damage in the earthquakes, he said it is encouraging to see what progress there has been. “It has been exciting to see the return of business and life to the central city over the last few years in particular, and it is exciting to be joining that return ourselves.”

Opening a fourth office is also a reflection of the growth the firm has experienced – from a team of 25 staff a decade ago, to more than 80 now, including an office in Riccarton, and regional offices in the Selwyn district and on the West Coast in Hokitika.

“One key principle for us as a law firm is that we always want to be and feel accessible to our clients. We want them to feel that they can call on us at any time.  For many of our clients our Riccarton offices are convenient, but a significant number of our clients and the other professionals that we work with, are now based in the CBD, so we trust that it will be helpful for them that we are once again back in the heart of the city.”

He thanked those involved in fitting out the premises including architect Malcolm Orr and Project Manager, Russell Hatcher. “We love the way the offices have come together.”

Further information: Lawyers rescued from earthquake-damaged tower’s top floor move back to town | Stuff.co.nz

Many people do not realise that a Will, even if signed correctly, can still be challenged after a person dies.

It is important, therefore, to give careful consideration as to how to distribute your property on death, to limit the risk of a bitter (and potentially expensive) dispute between family members or loved ones after you die.

Who do I need to provide for in my Will?

Under the Family Protection Act you owe a duty to provide “adequate provision” for the proper maintenance and support of your:

  • Spouse, civil union partner or de facto partner (this duty is paramount).
  • Your children;

In some circumstances, you may also owe a duty to:

  • your grandchildren (especially if their parents are deceased or if their parent is unable to provide for them),
  • your stepchildren (if you were maintaining them or were eligible to maintain them immediately prior to your death) or
  • your parents (if you had been maintaining them immediately prior to your death or you have no surviving spouse/partner or children).

What is adequate provision?

Each case depends on its own facts. The Court looks at a range of factors including:

  • The size of your estate (the property you own/have an interest in);
  • The age of the person(s) claiming;
  • The financial need of the person(s) claiming;
  • The closeness of the relationship;
  • Whether the person(s) claiming has already been provided for during his/her lifetime;
  • Whether there are other competing claims;
  • Your reasons for why you have structured your Will as you have.

For example, the amount that you will need to provide for your young children differs to that of adult children. Your duty to provide for children who have regularly assisted you in your senior years may differ to a child who you have been estranged from for the last 30 years.

Where you have a duty to provide for more than 1 person, thought will need to be given as to how you can provide for them all.

 What can the Court do if I have not made adequate provision?

The Court can adjust what provision is made for the person claiming under your Will. If the Court does this, this will mean that the share of others under your Will will be reduced.

Will the Court always make changes?

No, not necessarily. The Courts recognise a person’s right to distribute their assets as they see fit. They will only intervene to the extent necessary to provide the person claiming with adequate provision, taking into account the factors set out above.

What about my spouse or partner? Are there any other ways they can claim against my property?

On your death, your spouse/partner is entitled to choose to either:

  • Take what is provided for them in your Will (if anything); or
  • Choose to make an application under the Property (Relationships) Act for division. If this is done, it is presumed that all “relationship property”, which includes items such as the family home, family chattels and all property acquired by either spouse/partner after the commencement of your relationship, will be shared equally.

If, in your Will, you give your spouse/partner less than half of what they would be entitled to under the Property (Relationships) Act, there is a significant risk that they will choose to make a claim under that Act, rather than elect to take under your Will.

To limit the risk, you and your partner/spouse would need to enter into a Contracting Out Agreement limiting your partner/spouse’s right to claim half your relationship property on death.

Are there any other ways my will can be attacked?

Your Will could also be attacked if you made a promise during your lifetime to provide for someone in your Will who carried out services or work for you. The Court could declare that that person has a right to be provided for from your estate.

Services can include not only things done for you during your lifetime, but also companionship, affection and emotional support (if it exceeds what would be normally expected of that person).

The amount of payment will not necessarily be what you promised them. The Court will consider:

  • The circumstances in which the promise was made, the services were provided or the work was performed;
  • The value of the services or work;
  • The value of the promise;
  • The size of your property; and
  • The nature and amounts of other competing claims.

What can I do to prevent claims against my estate?

The most important thing you can do is to discuss your wishes, your personal circumstances and your property with your lawyer at the time you are making your Will. This is especially important if you have children from a previous relationship to your current one or if you do not want to equally provide for your children.

Other things you can do include:

  • Keeping written notes of why you have made your Will as you have (especially if you suspect that there may be future issues). These notes often sit alongside the original of your Will and will assist the Court if a claim is ever made.
  • If your personal circumstances change, then consider reviewing your Will (e.g. if you have children, or if you marry/enter a de facto relationship, separation or divorce). Marriage automatically ends a Will, unless the Will was made in contemplation of your marriage. Divorce automatically ends any provision for your spouse/partner under the Will unless the Will states that the provision will continue on divorce.
  • Talk to your solicitor about protecting separate assets of yours which you do not want your spouse/partner to share in. A contracting out agreement (also known as a prenuptial agreement) might be appropriate as noted above.
  • Be careful about making promises to people to provide for them in your will.

Should you need any assistance with this, or with any other matter, please contact Paul Cowey at Parry Field Lawyers (348-8480).

One Hamilton High Court case highlighted the difficulties and pitfalls of drafting and executing your own Will when the Court heard of a person who created and signed two Wills on the same day.

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For many of us, making a will is one of those chores that we intend to do one day soon, but just not today.  Let’s face it, thinking about certain future death is not fun. However, your will is one of the most important documents you will make.  If you delay, you might lose the opportunity to make one at all.  Death or serious mental injury can come unexpectedly. Parry Field Lawyers provide legal advice on drafting wills to make sure they are clear and comply with New Zealand law

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