Is it time for a personal asset planning Warrant of Fitness?

Wednesday 9 September 2015

​​​​​When did you last turn your mind to your own personal affairs? With busy lives it is often one of the last things we get around to. The Bell Gully trust and asset planning team has come up with a few prompts to get you thinking.​

​Have you reviewed your will in the last five years?

It is likely that with time circumstances change and that can impact on the provisions of a will and even affect its validity. Obvious examples of relevant changes include, marriages or separations. Children grow up, grandchildren are born, and these circumstances may also drive the need to review and update your will. Do you need to appoint g​​​uardians or reconsider who you have appointed as executors?

Do you have enduring powers of attorney?

Appointing an appropriate attorney now may save you and your family a lot of time, cost and hassle in the future.

There are two types of enduring powers of attorney - those that relate to property – covering bank accounts, shares, real estate – and those that relate to matters of personal care and welfare – covering day to day comfort, care and support, including housing and medical treatment.

What distinguishes an enduring power of attorney from a regular power of attorney is that an enduring power of attorney continues to have effect even if you lose mental capacity. It is better for you to decide now who should have the ability to make important decisions on your behalf in circumstances where you can no longer make those decisions, rather than leaving it to others, including possibly the Court. Put simply, you want to avoid ending up with someone you would not have wanted looking after your affairs.

An enduring power of attorney allows you to choose a person you trust to make important decisions on your behalf. You can determine what powers your attorney should have, you can specify limits and set conditions as to who the attorney needs to consult with or provide information to in acting as your atto​​rney.

If you already have enduring powers of attorney do they still reflect your wishes and are the attorneys still appropriate?

Is your family trust deed sitting in a bottom drawer, neglected?

If you have a trust or trusts it may be time to review them. Often once a trust is established the deed gets safely filed away without much further thought. In some situations the assets owned by the trust continue to be treated in the same way as if they had remained in your personal ownership.

Recent case la​w highlights the need for good trust governance. It is important to ensure that the appropriate processes and paperwork are in place. Are your trustee resolutions up to date?

If you have a memorandum of wishes, does it still reflect what you want – both now and after your death? A memorandum of wishes is an expression of your wishes in respect of the ongoing administration of the trust. It is addressed to the trustees and provides them with a useful guide, but you should note that it does not bind the trustees. It is likely that over time the views expressed in any memorandum of wishes need to be updated. We recommend a regular review of any memorandum of wishes.​​


This publication is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.

For more information
  • Willy Sussman

    Partner Auckland
  • John Bassett

    Consultant Auckland
Related areas of expertise
  • Trusts, asset and estate planning