Making a Will

It is important to make a Will and regularly update it. If you die without a Will, then your property and personal possessions will be distributed in accordance with the Administration Act 1969 and it is possible that your estate may go to people that you did not wish to benefit from it.

A little bit of advice…

We advise to look at your Will at least every 5 years or whenever you have a significant change in your circumstances. Here’s just some of the more common circumstances that should have you off to see your lawyer:

  • If you marry, remarry, enter into a defacto or civil union relationship.
  • If you become separated and/or divorced.
  • The birth and death of children.
  • If your assets or debts change significantly.
  • If any of your trustees or a significant beneficiary named in the Will dies.

And lastly, please let someone know in your family where your latest Will was made and what legal firm was used.

Fixed Fees for Wills

Single person
$275
Couple
$350
Life Interest Will
$450
Life Interest Will, 2nd relationship
$500
All prices are inclusive of GST and our office expenses charge

Powers of Attorney

For a good overview on Powers of Attorney and the difference between a general POA and an enduring POA, click here.

A little bit of advice…

POAs can be very useful – particularly in the case of an emergency (if you are travelling overseas) or in case you lost your mental capabilities. However, remember that you are giving someone the ability to deal with your property or money so you need to think carefully about the person to whom you plan to give this power to and how much power they are to have. Once you appoint the person as your Attorney, they can act without consulting you and you are bound by the decisions they make on your behalf, so choosing someone you have the upmost confidence in is critical. The person you appoint as your Attorney can be called to account for misusing the power and for acting against your wishes or best interests. However, you will still be bound by any action they have taken that affects third parties.

Fixed Fees for Powers of Attorney

Single person
$416
Couple
$531
All prices are inclusive of GST and our office expenses charge. *

Meet our Powers Of Attorney Team

Estate Administration

For a good overview on Estate Administration, click on our booklet, Closing Chapter.

A little bit of advice…

It goes without saying that estate administration is greatly aided by an up to date Will and that your Trustee knows which legal firm you used to make your Will. Following on from that, the more you can do to collate your personal documents together and tell your Trustee where they are located, aids in the administration of your estate.

Meet Our Estates Team

Buying & Selling Residential Property

For a good overview on buying and selling property, click on our On the Move Booklet.

A little bit of advice…

We will always encourage clients to bring the Agreement for Sale & Purchase to us before signing and which is included in our price to do your transaction. However, the world is not perfect and most people do not do this! So next best thing is to make sure your real estate agent includes some appropriate conditions hence making your Agreement conditional. Failure to do so means you are saying your contract is unconditional and nothing stands in the way of settling. Some of the most widely used conditions are listed here.

Solicitors Approval

The Agreement can be conditional upon your solicitor’s approval of the form of the Agreement or of the title. A solicitor is only entitled to refuse approval if there is a genuine legal problem with the form of the Agreement or with title. So if we discovered that there was an illegal right of way not registered on the title, the Agreement could be cancelled. Likewise, if we found that there was a legal problem with the Agreement, then the Agreement can be cancelled. Remember solicitor’s approval does not allow you to simply walk away from a contract you have regretted signing.

Finance Approval

If the Agreement is conditional upon your arranging finance on terms acceptable to you then the Agreement can be cancelled and you can walk away if you are unable to arrange finance on terms suitable to you. You must make an effort to obtain finance and once again, this condition cannot be used to get out of an Agreement simply because you have changed your mind. Even if you have pre-approval of finance, it is still important to put this clause in as the bank will still want to look at the property before finally committing to mortgage finance

LIM Report

A LIM report is issued by the local Council and contains all information held by the Council concerning the property you are looking to purchase. If the Agreement is conditional upon your being satisfied with the content of the LIM then we will be able to cancel the Agreement if there is anything in the LIM that you are not satisfied with. Depending on how this condition is worded, if there is a problem with the LIM then you may have to give the person who is selling the property an opportunity to fix the problem.

Builders Inspection

If you are concerned over any aspects of buildings on the property you are purchasing, it is wise to make the Agreement conditional upon your having the house inspected by a builder or a building inspector and your being satisfied with the report of the builder or the building inspector. If you have concerns, our advice is to get us to draft an appropriate and more detailed clause. Remember – if one of your conditions is not straightforward and potentially complicated, please come in and get us to do the wording for you. If could say a lot of heart ache further down the track. And also remember, including conditions in your Agreement are designed to help minimise risk – not as a tactic to walk away from the Agreement because you have changed your mind or acted in haste.

Fixed Fees for Residential Property

Our fee is fixed but the total amount will be more depending on the government charges we need to pay on your behalf (e.g. searches, registering your title). The figures below are for our fee only.

Sale no mortgage
$1050
Sale discharge 1 mortgage
$1150
Sale discharge 2 mortgages
$1,300
Refinance
$950
Variation of mortgage
$490
Purchase no mortgage
$1,200
Purchase 1 mortgage
$1,400
All prices are GST inclusive and include our office expenses charge.

Further Resources

If you die without a Will, then your property and other personal possessions will be distributed in accordance with the Administration Act 1969 and it is possible that your estate may go to people that you did not wish to benefit from it. A Will also enables you to add more specific wishes as to what happens to your property upon your death – for example, allowing a relative to reside in the house until that person dies.
The Property (Relationship) Act 1976 applies to anyone living together as a couple (be it married, un-married, same sex or in a civil union). Depending on the nature and length of time together in the relationship or marriage, the Act will have implications for each person’s entitlement to a share in the relationship property and which will often include the family home. In cases where property relationship does include the family home and the relationship or marriage is of a long term duration, then the Act provides that both of you should have an equal share in the property. This applies if the house is in both of our names or even if it is in the one person’s name only. This may not be problematic if each person’s contribution to the property is roughly equal, but it has the potential to be troublesome if one person owned the property and the other person moved in later or where either of them has a family and an interest in a home from an earlier relationship. It is worth bearing mind that problems can occur with division of the parties interest in the family home not only in the event of separation but also in the event of the death of either person where there is a contest with one or both of their estates. The good news is that with careful planning and advice it is possible to avoid these sorts of problems. In most cases we recommend what is called a Contracting Out Agreement which entitles you to provide your own agreement for division of your interest in the property which better reflects your contributions and/or your expectations in that regard and thereby avoid the equal sharing provisions in circumstances where they would be unfair.

family-trust-adn-asset-planning-iconFamily Trusts & Asset Planning

For a good overview on Family Trusts, click on our To Trust or Not to Trust Booklet.

A little bit of advice…

Trusts continue to be a popular way for people to protect their assets against risk. However, careful thought needs to be given as to why you wish to set a trust up and not because they happen to be “flavour of the month.” The Trust Deed is a very important document which sets out the rules about how your trust is to be managed, who is to manage it and who is to benefit. Once a trust is set up, there are clear legal obligations which the Trustees must meet otherwise you run the risk of it not being legally effective. So our advice to you is to first sit down and think about why you want to set up a trust, what it is you are hoping to achieve and to understand that there will be certain legal obligations that must be met. Managing your trust is an ongoing commitment.

Fixed Fees for Family Trusts

Setting up Trust & transferring a property with no mortgage
$2,800
Setting up Trust & transferring a property with a mortgage
$3,100
Setting up Trust with no assets
$2,000
Annual Trust Review
$500
Combo Deal – Please ask us for the price when done in conjunction with buying a property – significantly cheaper!   All prices are inclusive of GST and our office expenses charge. Prices do not include government charges which we pay on your behalf (e.g. searches, registration etc).

Contracting Out Agreements

A comprehensive overview of the Property ( Relationships) Act 1976 can be found on the Ministry of Justice’s website.

A little bit of advice…

If we could have a dollar for every time a client has said, “No…I don’t need a contracting out agreement – we are in love and we will last for ever……” Hello!!! Agreed it is a subject no new couple ever wants to have but if you are honestly bringing way more into the relationship – you may have a business, your own house and other assets – and your new partner is just bringing his/her bags….then our advice is to make sure you have a Contracting Out Agreement. Remember, just because you are wanting to contract out of the Act, does not mean you are intending to financially cripple your new partner. It actually gives you both an opportunity to sit down and look at the combined assets you are bringing to the new relationship and deciding for yourselves how they are to be divided. If you don’t, you will be governed by the equal sharing rules in the Act. There are at least two situations where clients should carefully consider the need for a relationship property agreement. The first situation is where you are at the early stages of a relationship and it becomes clear that one or both of you have assets or other property that you wish to continue to treat as your own separate property rather than as shared or relationship property. This sort of arrangement is called a Contracting Out Agreement. Contracting Out Agreements are often recommended for clients who are purchasing or may already own their own home prior to the relationship. They can also be important where one of the parties has a much greater asset base they wish to protect or where an older couple already have children and assets from an earlier relationship they wish to preserve. The second situation where you may need an agreement is where you are in the process of separation. This is called a Property Separation Agreement. The purpose of the agreement is to make sure that if you divide the assets, property and debt from your relationship, then both parties are secure in the knowledge that the division and any distribution of cash and assets cannot later be revisited by the other party. This can be particularly important where one of you is paying out the other’s share in the family home or business and you want to have some security in knowing that you (or your estate) cannot be subjected to a claim by your former spouse/partner (or their estate) to a greater share in that asset. If you are unsure whether you might need a relationship property agreement or you wish to get some advice on how and when this kind of agreement could be helpful for asset planning or estate planning, then please contact us (see our team below).

Meet Our Property Relationship Team

employee-employment-issuesEmployee Employment Issues

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has a comprehensive website covering all the basic rights of an employee.

A little bit of advice…

It still surprises us that many employees do not have written employment agreements. By law you must have either an Individual Employment Agreement or a Collective Employment Agreement (one involving a union). If you do not belong to a Union, you are entitled to a written Individual Employment Agreement. What do you do if your Employer hasn’t given you one? It is natural to think you have no protection but actually you do by way of the Holidays Act 2003. Your friend in need! Your Employer is still required by law to provide minimum terms and conditions (including common entitlements such as 5 days paid sick leave after 6 months) and these must be met irrespective of having a written Agreement.

Meet Our Employment Team

Dispute Resolution

Disputes Resolution – please click on our Quick Guide to Resolving Disputes information guide.

A little bit of advice…

Convincing clients to mediate can be difficult – particularly if the client is angry or personally affronted by their opponent’s conduct or actions. Some clients feel that agreeing to mediate is in some way an admission of guilt or capitulation.  This is not correct and if both parties display a genuine desire to settle the dispute, it can be extremely effective  and far cheaper than going down the track of litigation.

Meet Our Dispute Resolution Team