Trust law reform

Trusts are an important part of New Zealand society and the economy. It’s estimated there are between 300,000 to 500,000 trusts in New Zealand.

The Government is moving to update and improve the general law governing trusts for the first time in 60 years.

We are currently asking for feedback on a draft Trusts Bill.

Generally, the proposed reforms seek to clarify core trust concepts such as what constitutes a trust and what duties a trustee has. The proposed changes are about making trust legislation more useful, fixing practical problems and reducing costs. The reform also aims to modernise outdated language and concepts.

The reform follows the Law Commission’s report Review of the Law of Trusts: A New Trusts Act for New Zealand. In March 2014, the Government accepted the Law Commission’s recommendation for a new Trusts Act but said further analysis of the other recommendations was required.

In 2015, a reference group of 7 expert trust lawyers tested the Commission’s proposals. They considered the real-world implications of reforming trust law and their feedback helped shape the new draft legislation.

Find out more about the reform of trust laws:

Draft Trusts Bill consultation (closed 21 December 2016) (external link)

Minister's media release (external link)

Minister puts trust law reform on the agenda (external link)

Government response to Law Commission Report [PDF, 78 KB]

Law Commission review of trusts (external link)

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