Cradle to Grave Conference “bang on point as usual”

The annual ADLS Cradle to Grave Conference, which reviews developments at the interface between trust, property and family law, was held in both Auckland and Christchurch last month, to another fantastic turnout.

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Participants enjoyed the collegiality of the event, making the most of the opportunity to catch up with their colleagues from across New Zealand. Once again, the conference offered a stellar line up of speakers, expertly chaired by Bill Patterson, Convenor of the ADLS Trust Law Committee.

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Anthony Grant presented the first paper, discussing how the courts have dealt with claims around constructive trusts and quantum meruit, particularly in relation to relationship property litigation, going on to consider claims in relation to domestic services and child care services. He highlighted the circumstances which may give rise to such claims and provided practitioners with suggestions as to how they might advise both their individual and trustee clients to assist them in preserving their assets.

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Vanessa Bruton QC then considered current trends in trust litigation, discussing some entertaining fictional scenarios in light of recent decisions in this complex area. Her comprehensive paper included a particularly valuable set of appendices clearly setting out relevant procedures available to challenge appointments of litigation guardians, property managers and trustees during a testator’s lifetime, the paths available to challenge the will once the testator has died, and a summary of the tests and onus of proof for capacity, undue influence and unconscionable bargain.

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Greg Kelly reviewed some of the key features of the Trusts Bill (a final version of which is expected to be introduced into Parliament this year). He focused particularly on the changes practitioners will need to make to their practice and their drafting in light of the new Bill.

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Brian Carter reviewed the law around guardianship, looking at the rights and powers of testamentary guardians in important areas such as determining a child’s name, education or medical treatment. He outlined some of the sometimes surprising outcomes of competing claims between parents, grandparents and step-parents under the current legislation. This session showed why general practitioners without expertise in family law should be conversant with this important area of law.

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Sandra Grant addressed when and how enduring powers of attorney under the PPPRA become operative, and when and how they might cease. She considered recent developments in case law, offering practical suggestions for practitioners attempting to navigate this challenging area.

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Henry Brandts-Giesen kicked off the afternoon session with an introduction to FATCA and the CRS, which he accepted might be considered a somewhat dry topic by many. It is, nonetheless, an extremely significant legislative development which will have far-reaching and important consequences for lawyers. Attendees were made aware of significant competing obligations between FATCA and CRS and current domestic legislation.

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Denham Martin discussed the development of the collection and sharing of tax information internationally, looking at how this will affect taxpayers, legal practitioners and their clients, both in New Zealand and offshore. He went on to outline the new foreign trust registration and disclosure rules, working through a number of practical examples and highlighting key points for practitioners, particularly those acting for clients with connections, or business and investment interests offshore. Conference participants and readers are sure to find his comprehensive paper (and indeed the entire set of conference papers) a particularly useful reference in the future.

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Next, Kevin Muir reviewed the law around competing claims brought by widows and stepchildren under the PRA and those brought under the PAF. The rights of a surviving spouse to preserve their interests and take property by survivorship or under a will, in contrast to their duties as executors were highlighted and considered in light of recent court decisions.

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Last speaker for the day was Vicki Ammundsen who provided attendees with a practical round-up of recent conveyancing matters relating to trusts. This informative and useful session was much appreciated by attendees who were kept engaged, interested and amused until the last moments of the conference, after which Bill Patterson brought the intensive but enjoyable day to a close.

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ADLS wishes to express its sincere gratitude to Bill Patterson and all this year’s speakers for their hard work and commitment. We would also like to thank those practitioners who contributed to the planning of the event and the preparation of the materials.

Thank you to all those who attended, but particularly those in Christchurch for their patience and flexibility in the face of the disruptions caused by the worst of the Christchurch weather! 

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