Making sure your loved one is mentally capable when signing their will

What does it mean to have ‘mental capacity’ when it comes to signing a will or an important legal document? This has recently become a hot topic, with new case law shining some much-needed light on the subject. It’s also something that families need to be aware of as their loved ones age.

Mental Incapacity

Mental capacity, as a concept, seems straightforward and self-explanatory. Common sense would suggest that if there is even a slight question as to a will-maker’s capacity, an assessment should be carried out to ensure they fully understand the provisions in their will, as well as the possible consequences that could arise from them.

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Business Briefs

Is your business infringing existing intellectual property rights? Do your homework.

A trade mark can be a valuable asset which can help your business to develop a reputation in the market and distinguish your goods and/or services from others. It’s risky, however, to not consider existing third party intellectual property rights before you start to trade.

There would be nothing worse than finding the perfect location, deciding on a business name and launching into trading, only to receive a letter six months later to say that your business is infringing existing third party intellectual property rights, and that you must stop using it immediately. In most situations the only way forward is to re-brand and potentially lose your existing goodwill and customer recognition.

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Compensation for emotional harm in the workplace – trending upwards

Compensation awards for employees who have suffered emotional harm in the workplace have traditionally been low, which has been favourable for employers facing claims by employees.

emotional harm

Recently, however, compensation amounts have increased and are achieving greater consistency for employees. Employers now, more than ever, need to treat their employees properly to ensure they do not face significant compensation awards for personal grievance claims.

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A no surprises Budget

There are few surprises in the government’s 2018 Budget presented on 17 May, the first from Minister of Finance, the Hon Grant Robertson.

Treasury has forecasted economic growth of about 3% per year on average to June 2022, with our economy projected to grow at a rate faster than that expected for New Zealand’s major trading partners.

The Minister has played safe with cautious spending in key sectors, buoyed by its inheritance from the previous government of a strong fiscal position.

Operating from a healthy economy, the government has focused its spending in the health, education and housing sectors.

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Purchasing from a developer who isn’t a builder – what are the pitfalls?

One of the increasingly popular options for purchasing a new house is to buy from a property developer who may not have actually built the house. Contract builders are brought in to construct new homes in subdivisions; the developer then sells on. This can result in a nice new house at a reasonable price.

However, there are risks associated with this type of purchase about which many people are not aware. Some of these risks can be mitigated with sensible contractual protection built in, others are simply risks that you can’t reduce.

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Pre-purchase inspections – what you can object to and what you can’t

The final step before you settle your property purchase is to undertake a ‘pre-purchase inspection’. This gives you the right (under the contract you signed) to inspect the property one last time and raise any last-minute issues about the property with the real estate agent and with us before settlement.

Having a pre-purchase inspection is not, however, the right time to try to negotiate a price reduction, or to attempt to raise new issues about the property.

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Keeping New Zealand safe from money launderers

As you will no doubt be aware, from 1 July 2018 all law firms will be subject to the requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML for short). At first glance you may wonder why we must adhere to these very strict requirements and why you will be asked for additional information.

New Zealand is currently regarded as one of the safest and least corrupt countries in the world; it’s important that we retain this position. As an export nation we rely on other countries being confident that they can send money to New Zealand and also to receive money knowing that it is not being tainted by the proceeds of crime.

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Bright-line test period extended

Property investors will be familiar with the bright-line test where there are potential tax issues if a residential rental property is owned for less than two years before it is sold. In addition to rental properties, the sale of a holiday home can be subject to a tax liability, as it is not a primary residence which is exempt.

In the current buoyant property market, many property investors have been considering selling other properties that form part of their rental portfolios.

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Is your rental safe and healthy?

Penalties for landlords dragging the chain

New laws came into effect on 1 July 2016 that require landlords to make their properties safe and healthy for tenants. These new laws provide some lead time for properties to be brought up to standard; they will apply to all rented properties from 1 July 2019. Will your rental property meet the new standard?

A recent Tenancy Tribunal decision shows that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is not shy of showing its teeth to ensure that tenants have safe and healthy homes by complying with the health and safety amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. The Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 outline requirements for rental properties, including underfloor and ceiling insulation, and requiring smoke alarms within three metres of each bedroom.

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Postscript

Food Act 2014 – rolling deadlines to register your food business

The legislation has introduced a sliding scale where businesses that are at a higher risk, from a food safety viewpoint, are required to operate under stricter requirements than lower risk outlets. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) points out that a corner dairy operator who reheats meat pies is treated differently from a meat pie manufacturer.

New food businesses must register when they start to trade. Existing businesses are required to register with a set of rolling deadlines.

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