Cradle to Grave Conference a draw card

It was an impressive sight as 285 practitioners gathered at Auckland’s Ellerslie Event Centre for ADLS’s annual Cradle to Grave conference on Monday 18 March. Eager to update themselves on developments in trust and family property matters, the attendees were treated to a full day of excellent speakers. The conference opened under the skilful guidance of the Chair, Bill Patterson, an experienced trust practitioner who has been instrumental to the success of the conference since its inception eight years ago.

Cradle to Grave

Family Court Judge Burns opened the Auckland session of the conference with interesting insights in his address entitled “Observations from the Bench” (Judge Murfitt providing the equivalent at the Christchurch event). Judge Burns’ delivery focussed on the interplay between the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and the Family Proceedings Act 1980. He noted that the courts were regularly faced with determining issues involving blended families, often with children from previous relationships and de facto partners. The wide variety of evidence that could be used to establish a de facto relationship claim was also noted by Judge Burns, leading to his providing light-hearted advice on the merits of observing your partner’s anniversary. He stressed the importance of the lawyers involved drafting reliable and well-prepared agreements, particularly in the case of wills, which can anticipate the changes in circumstances that often occur in modern society.

This need for lawyers to provide comprehensive advice and well-structured agreements was an issue that was returned to throughout the day by the other speakers across a wide range of topics. Wellington practitioners Greg and Chris Kelly kept the audience engaged, detailing the way in which agreements between family members can be structured to take into account the possible evolution of those relationships, which can sometimes entail the rolling back of existing arrangements. The brothers’ “double act” was warmly received by the audience.

Auckland barrister Anthony Grant’s presentation on the latest developments in trusts focused on Section 182 of the Family Proceedings Act, and garnered an excellent response from the audience who found his discussion clear and concise with a welcome inflection of humour.

Tax expert Denham Martin took the floor to speak first about the IRD’s focus on tax collection, particularly the issue of loss generation and usage, before issuing a serious warning to lawyers who are advising trustees of New Zealand-based trusts and who are intending to become resident in Australia, about the very real risk that they will then be subjected to tax on the income generated by the trust in New Zealand. Later in the day, Theresa Donnelly from the MSD dealt with difficult content from the perspective of policy, and Juliet Moses, partner at TGT Legal, focused on the methods, and associated difficulties, of the removal or retirement of trustees.

The conference topics for the day included practical advice on trusts and wills for blended families and de facto partners, Section 21 agreements, tax issues, gifting, residential care subsidies, EPAs (Enduring Powers of Attorney) and discussions on the development of trust law.

The Cradle to Grave event was extended to Christchurch for the first time this year, and attracted considerable interest throughout that region with 164 registered attendees. A profile of the Christchurch event will feature in the next issue of Law News.

The full set of speakers’ papers is available for purchase via the ADLS website and from the Law Society Store. Contact the Store Manager, Dan Suciu, phone 09-3065740 fax: 09-3065741 or email: thestore@adls.org.nz

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