Trust Wordcloud

Trusts are legal entities that been used by New Zealanders for hundreds of years for a variety of purposes. For some, your trust might have previously ticked along year-to-year without requiring much attention at all; however, new legislation requires all trustees to consider the core components of the Trust Deed and take a more active role going forward.

The Trust Act 2019, which came into full force on 30 January 2021, replacing the Trustee Act 1956 and the Perpetuities Act 1964 with the intended purpose of making trust law more accessible, clarifying and simplifying core trust principles and essential obligations for trustees.

Here’s what you need to know about the Trust Act 2019 if you have an existing trust or are thinking of forming a trust:

Provision of Information to Beneficiaries

Under the new legislation, the Trustees must make available to a Beneficiary (or Beneficiary’s representative) the basic trust information, including:

  • The fact that they are a Beneficiary
    • The names and contact details of the Trustees
    • The details of who has been appointed and retired as Trustee
    • The rights of the Beneficiary to request a copy of the terms of the trust or other trust information.

Mandatory Duties for Trustees:

  • Know the terms of the trust
    • Who has the powers?
    • To whom the trustees owe a duty to
    • Act for the benefit of the beneficiaries in good faith and honesty
    • Exercising trustee power for a proper purpose

Default Duties for Trustees:

  • General duty of care
    • Duty to avoid conflict of interest between the Trustees and Beneficiaries
    • Duty to act impartially and in accordance with the terms of the trust deed
    • Duty not to profit from the trusteeship nor act for reward
    • Duty to act unanimously with all other Trustees (including Independent Trustees)

Core Documents:

Trustees also have a duty to keep core documents and pass all those documents (or copies of) to any new Trustee.  

What does this mean for me?

If you have an independent trustee acting for your trust, now is the time to consult them about changes.

If you use YHPJ Trustee Services the good news is that we are here to ensure your trust is compliant and we are here to help! As part of our Trustee Services, we require an initial meeting with you to review the Trust Deed and gather beneficiary details to complete the beneficiary disclosure component of the Act. Each year following this, we will do an desktop Trust Review and send you a questionnaire electronically to ensure that we have current Trustee and Beneficiary information and that we are complying with our Trustee obligation standards.

If you have any questions about the Trust Act 2019 or YHPJ Trustee Services, feel free to contact our team at

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