When Grandma comes to live with us

As parents age, their children often find they need to take an increasing role in looking after them. Unpalatable as it seems, it’s important to think about the legal difficulties that can arise where one member of the family has assumed responsibility.

If questions are asked some time later, it may not be enough to say “but that is what mum/dad wanted”. We also explain the restrictions on when an attorney (the person who holds the Enduring Power of Attorney) can benefit from the decisions they make. We touch on the issues where a parent later needs to go into care.

EPA

Often elderly people do not want to live alone. Buying a unit in a retirement village, or some other form of sheltered accommodation, may be a good option. Others may find buying a unit is not financially possible or desirable. Some prefer to stay with one of the family. In that case, an increasing burden may be thrown on the family member who is providing care. These arrangements should be recorded carefully and it’s important to get legal advice.

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Option A or Option B? That is the question!

Entitlements under your spouse or partner’s will

When your spouse or partner dies you will need to make a very important decision between your entitlements under their will and potential claims against their estate. We discuss the implications of that decision, some of the issues that it raises and the consequences of the choice that you make.

In 2002 the law in New Zealand was changed so that when one of the spouses to a marriage or one of the partners in a de facto relationship of more than three years dies, the death for most purposes is treated the same as separation. Under the Matrimonial Property Act 1976, when a married couple separated the general rule was that their matrimonial property was split 50/50.

Wills

The changes to the law in 2002 extended this division to the situation where one of the spouses or de facto couples dies leaving a surviving spouse or partner. For practical purposes, death is treated the same as a separation under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, known as the PRA.

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Business Briefs

Website privacy falling short

Your business website is a powerful tool for engaging potential and existing customers, and for collecting useful data. Where information collected is personal information, however, you have obligations under the Privacy Act 1993. The legislation contains
12 Privacy Principles which regulate how you collect, use, disclose and store personal information.

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Great, You Have Found a New Business, Now How to Buy It?

Looking to purchase a business? We can help! There are a number of steps involved in buying a business, and working your way through them can seem quite overwhelming, particularly for first time buyers.

Often prospective purchasers overlook important aspects and end up having to sort out issues that arise after settlement – at significant cost. This article puts the spotlight on common snags people experience when buying a new business.

Choosing a business structure

It’s important that you select the business structure to suit your personal circumstances and business aims. There are four main types of business structures, each with pros and cons:

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Flurry of Employment Law Changes Ahead

The 2017 general election has given the Labour-led government an opportunity to re-shape the direction of employment law in New Zealand.

We outline the upcoming changes, announced on 25 January, which include modifications to the 90-day trial period, the restoration of rest periods and collective bargaining. These changes will be incorporated into an amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000. We also touch on the proposed compulsory redundancy provisions.

The 90-day trial period

After early indications that this change was to affect all businesses, the government will abolish the current 90-day trial periods for businesses with more than 20 employees. The 90-day trial periods remain in place for businesses with 19 or fewer employees.

New employees of businesses with 20+ employees now have recourse against any perceived unfair treatment and unjustified dismissal by allowing them to bring personal grievance proceedings during the first 90 days of employment.

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Recent Workplace Health and Safety Sentencing

Legislation is showing its teeth

The hefty sentencing in the recent Budget Plastics workplace health and safety case confirms the strict attitude now taken by WorkSafe and the courts. With the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 having been in place 18 months or so, this case reinforces the need for all businesses to ensure they comply with their obligations under the new regime.

Worksafe New Zealand v Budget Plastics (New Zealand) Ltd[1] involved a worker who had his hand amputated after it was caught in the auger of a plastic extrusion machine. His employer, Budget Plastics, pleaded guilty for failing to ensure the safety of its employee while at work, so far as was reasonably practicable, which led to serious injury. The maximum penalty was a fine of up to $1.5 million.

Health & Safety Law

Budget Plastics was found to have failed to comply with a number of industry standards and WorkSafe guidelines. It had also not implemented all the recommendations which arose from a health and safety audit six weeks before the accident.

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Blended Families – Wills and Trusts

Can it be fair for everyone?

Making sure everyone you care about gets a fair share of your property after you die is an issue most of us grapple with. This may also have additional complications when you have a blended family.

It’s not always as easy as just writing your Will and specifying who gets what. There are several statutes that give family members and/or your new partner’s family, a right to contest your Will. The two main statutes are the Family Protection Act 1955 (FPA) and the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (PRA).

Leaving it all to your partner?

A common way of structuring your affairs is to leave everything to your partner or spouse, knowing they will provide for your children as well as their own in their Will. These are often called ‘mirror Wills’. Unfortunately, this structure doesn’t always satisfy all the children involved, as we have seen in several recent court cases. You also run the risk of your partner or spouse changing their Will at a later date after you have died.

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Over the Fence

New government-endorsed health and safety toolkit now available

SafePlus, a new government-developed and endorsed health and safety toolkit, is now available to all New Zealand businesses, including those in the rural sector.

SafePlus currently consists of three products:

  1. Resources and guidance
  2. Independent onsite assessment and advisory service, and
  3. Online self-assessment tool (available mid-2018).

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Loan Documents: Read the fine print, there could be some surprises

Whether you like it or not, you will probably need to fund your farming operations with borrowing from one of New Zealand’s main trading banks.

The main terms that borrowers look at when signing loan facility documentation relate to the cost of the borrowing: interest rate, the amount of the repayment sums and the term of the lending. The security required is usually a mortgage over the farm land and, more often than not, a general security agreement which is effectively a mortgage over all of the farming entity’s assets that are not land such as stock, crops, machinery, receivables and so on.

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Farm Management Plans

A new (uncertain) dawn for farmers

One of the hot issues in the recent election campaign was raising the water standards in our rivers and lakes. Regional authorities are the bodies that are charged with implementing the government’s water standards policy.

All regional authorities have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, plan changes that are designed to enable them to achieve the minimum water standards set by government.

Reduce leaching into waterway

One of the aims of these plan changes is to reduce the amount of nitrogen and/or phosphorous leaching from farms into waterways.

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