Asset Protection incorporates a number of legal areas. As we accrue more assets and value we should be protecting them against dangers. These might include exposure to business risk, unwittingly sharing property that has a separate legal status with partners or spouses, children getting nothing from your estate and having too many assets of value to qualify for benefits.
WebsterLaw will sit down with you and guide you through the process of setting up an asset-protection plan to suit your individual requirements. We carefully examine every situation and customise a solution to fit. We also study the risks to create the simplest, most cost-effective structure for your needs.
For example, for the self employed, the structure could include a company and a trust or even a trading trust. For those in second or subsequent relationships, we recommend a structure that may include a family trust or even multiple trusts.
Being in business can be a scary place. Every day businesses are bombarded with a myriad of legal issues. There are leases, finance, employment, business contracts and agreements, shareholder or partnership disputes, debt collection, intellectual property, franchises, and sales and purchases of businesses.
WebsterLaw helps clients manage their businesses by providing input on whatever level is required. We take a personal approach and visit our clients at their places of business to get a better understanding of their needs. Being present at any contractual negotiations also helps us understand the problems our clients encounter and how best to solve them.
The cost of having us involved in these kinds of issues is small compared to the benefits we can offer, both in terms of the extra value we can add and the savings we can advise on.
We can advise on every aspect of Company Law, from formation through to liquidation.
We can assist in any off the following:
WebsterLaw can provide specific advice and assistance on all these matters and many more.
Employment law is constantly changing so it's imperative that both employers and employees are aware of their rights and obligations.
At WebsterLaw we do work for either party, employer or employee, and being able to see both sides of any dispute, can assist our clients on any employment issues that may arise.
We can prepare employment contracts for employers, advise employees on contracts that have been prepared for them by their prospective employer, manage any employment issues that might arise for either party through performance issues, appraisals, disciplinary matters, dismissals, personal grievance claims or appearances at mediation or adjudication hearings.
We work to maximise results for our clients by providing the right advice. Sometimes commercial common sense must prevail and we make it very clear whether a client needs to settle an issue and on what basis.
Estate Planning is a very comprehensive area comprising a large part of the law. When preparing an estate plan for a client, we take a good look at their current situation and project forward two, five, 10 and maybe 20 years.
Each case is different, with a huge number of possible scenarios. Whether you have a typical nuclear family, a reconstituted or blended family, a solo parent family, or whether there are brothers and sisters or parents involved, existing children or plans to have them, previous relationships, possible future relationships. We get an overview, talk about your hopes and aspirations and then devise a plan to put that into operation.
In doing so, we may look at a number of different areas of law, including wills, trusts, property-relationship agreements, property-sharing agreements, enduring powers of attorney, insurance, and the list goes on!
Each individual case will be custom designed to suit your situation.
Statistically over a third of all relationships break down. It's not a pleasant position to be in, but at WebsterLaw we will steer you through this very emotional traumatic time and sensitively advise you on your rights and obligations, no matter what your situation.
We can negotiate with the lawyer for your partner/spouse and advise you on finalising a separation agreement. This can include a settlement of your relationship property, definition of any separate property, post separation spousal support, child support, occupation of the family home and care of and contact with your children. We do not do family court litigation, as this is a specialised area, we but can refer you to skilled and competent family law barristers, brief them on the issues and ride shotgun, if needed, during any court hearings. Having said that, we can assist you with family court mediations in an attempt to get a resolution.
We also help clients with "pre-nups" or contracting-out agreements under Section 21 of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 where the relationship is new or existing but has not broken down and both parties want to amicably provide for the division of their assets in the case of separation or death. This is very important when there is a second or subsequent relationship and both parties want to protect themselves from any future heartache. It's also important to ensure children from previous relationships are safeguarded.
WebsterLaw can help you look at the bigger picture and include, where necessary, property sharing agreements, wills, memoranda of wishes, trusts and any other legal device we consider important for you to achieve your desired end result.
Someone smart once said that money is not the root of all evil, it's the lack of money.
When it comes to managing your money, whether as an asset or a liability, WebsterLaw can help you with:
It does not matter what structure you are using, whether it is personal, a partnership, a company, a trust, we take your instructions, liaise with your old and new bank or finance company, organise all the necessary documents, consents and approvals, meet with you to sign up the documents and arrange the settlement. The funds are transacted through the trust account and any surpluses can be paid out to you the same day as cleared funds through our facility at Westpac with their same-day cleared payments system.
WebsterLaw can advise you on fixed and floating loans, overdrafts, term loans, interest-only facilities, interest and payment holidays in tight times, and any other queries you have. We can help you negotiate with your bank or creditors to achieve your desired outcome, whatever that may be.
The leaky-building debacle has had a huge impact on the lives of some of our clients. We have acted for all sides of this equation over the last 15 years and can see the problems from all angles. While these claims are tailing off now, it is still best to have your situation examined carefully.
The homeowner is in the most unfortunate position in this battle. Our task is to minimise the financial cost by ensuring that the most cost-effective settlement possible is achieved. This means the maximum amount of money can be used to actually rectifying the problem instead of talking about it. We work in conjunction with a group of experienced professional consultants in the preparation of the required reports. We approach the problem with a realistic attitude, as we know the pitfalls in the claims. We don't believe in sugar-coating things, as you'll only be let down later when the reality of the situation kicks in.
For builders and contractors our task is to minimise their financial burden. We can quickly come to grips with the issues, establish legal liabilities, then work on getting a cost-effective exit from the problem.
We do not act for councils as they have their own specialised group of insurance lawyers who act for them. However, recently, we have also acted for water-proofers, roofers, builders and architects.
Our experience in this field has given us a large range of skill to handle any construction dispute. We are able to take instructions on adjudications under the Contruction Contracts Act 2002 as advocate for one of the parties. Donald is available for appointmnent as a mediator to try and settle disputes at the lowest possible level, or as an adjudicator.
There are no winners in this sorry saga, not even the lawyers.
It has been said that justice is for those who can afford it. It is true that any legal remedy comes at a price and there is never a 100% chance of success. Parties now often use one of the Alternative Dispute Resolution methods to solve their legal disputes in an attempt to resolve a dispute in the most cost-effective manner. This is achieved at the lowest level by negotiation between the parties. At Websterlaw we can assist clients with their negotiated settlements. If that doesn't work the next step can be to involve a Mediator as an independent party who will structure the negotiations with a focus on seeing if the parties can resolve their dispute. With our extensive experience in this area, we can act for our clients in the mediation process in a very effective manner. We can also assist in the other alternatives such as Arbitration and Adjudication.
At WebsterLaw, we have acted for clients in mediations for family, commercial and employment related matters. Our firm does not do court trials, but will take the case up to the mediation stage. In most court cases nowadays, the parties are required to attend a Judicial Settlement Conference and we can help clients in that situation.
We quickly get to grips with the fact scenario, apply the law, then use a practical approach to try and get a resolution of these matters.
Donald has also completed Parts A and B of the Mediation courses run by the New Zealand Law Society and is qualified to do family mediations. For the last 8 years Donald has been enrolled at Massey University doing extra mural studies by way of a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Studies, specialising in Dispute Resolution. This was an 8 paper course and Donald has now successfully completed all of these and graduated in May 2021. This new specialty area is an exciting development for the firm.
Donald has been credentialed (that is actually a proper word!) by the Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand, "AMINZ", New Zealand's largest dispute resolution organisation, and is now an associate member.
If you are going overseas or will be away from home for a while, and need to have documents signed during that time, you can set up a power of attorney. This will enable the person of your choice to sign on your behalf.
However, it's important to note that a power of attorney cannot be used in all situations. For example, a power of attorney cannot be used to sign for an absent company director. Also, not all power of attorney documents allow a person to sign as a trustee under a power of attorney. For that, the power of attorney form needs to include a deed of delegation.
As our baby boomers are now reaching their "golden years" we are recommending that our clients appoint someone to be their "enduring power of attorney". There are 2 sorts of enduring powers of attorney, one for personal care and welfare and the other for property. The important difference between these and the general powers of attorney are that the enduring ones do not become ineffective if the person giving the power becomes mentally incapable.
The forms that we use have many options and at WebsterLaw we can discuss these with you and advise what's best for you. We prepare the documents, have you sign them and catalogue them in our deeds system so that they are readily available if needed.
Buying, selling or refinancing your home with another bank?
Call WebsterLaw for a no-obligation estimate of the costs. We've specialised in property law for nearly 40 years. Commercial or residential, we'll handle your conveyance transaction anywhere in New Zealand.
Transferring your home or acting on the acquisition of a new family home or investment property?
We will advise on the agreements, preferably before they are signed. We'll ensure the agreement dates are coordinated; arrange for or carry out on your behalf any due diligence investigations, obtain the necessary reports and searches to satisfy any conditions and generally help you through these transactions. WebsterLaw can also advise on the use of LTC companies and trusts to purchase properties.
Buying or selling a commercial property?
We can assist you in any capacity. We do due diligence investigations on commercial properties, leases, building histories, tenancies, and business viability.
We also handle subdivisions, resource consent applications, land-use applications, code compliance issues, leaky buildings, weather tight homes resolutions, in fact, anything that involves land and buildings.
So much of what we want to do on our properties is controlled by council red tape these days, and Resource Consent applications are frequently required.
WebsterLaw can guide you through sometimes daunting process. We can help if:
Our expertise can sometimes make all the difference in submitting a successful application. We can negotiate your consent conditions if you are not happy with them.
Websterlaw is able to assist at any level up to the Environment Court. We pull in specialist help with the actual court hearings and work closely with those specialists to ensure your case is prepared and presented properly.
We constantly get asked about trusts. It's been a bit of a buzzword recently, and many people believe everyone should have a trust.
So, should you? We think a trust is a bit like having an insurance policy, you never know if you'll need one until the occasion arises and you wish you did.
WebsterLaw can assess the risks you face in your life, quantify them as best we can, and decide if putting your major assets into a trust is a good idea. Once we have a handle on your situation and decide that a trust is needed, we tailor one accordingly. It may be a simple trust to hold a family home, where business risks pose a threat to the assets. It may be a reconstituted family where the partners want to isolate assets for the benefit of their first families. There are also trading trusts to own businesses.
We're often asked about shifting assets into a trust to enable access to rest-home subsidies. Where this is the only reason to have a trust, we advise people to think again. The risks are really very minor. 2003 statistics showed that only 1.8% of those aged 65-75 were in a rest home. For the 75-85 age group, the figure was 5%. And even for those over 85, only 27% were in a rest home. This means that 73% were not. WINZ have made it harder and harder over the years to grant benefits like rest home subsidies, where the parties have a family trust that holds all their assets. We work with clients to make applications for these subsidies where they have a trust to clearly set out why the benefit should still be made available, where possible. We also assist clients in applying to WINZ for a loan to pay rest home care costs when they are eligible.
To establish whether or not you need a trust, we'll discuss your situation and gauge the best set-up for you.
The new Trust Act came into force in January 2021. This places new obligations on trustees. We are finding that clients are taking this as an opportunity to review their need for a trust and the ongoing annual costs that are involved. If we find that a trust is no longer relevant, we advise on the closing down of the trust.
The hardest part about doing a will is getting around to it. But administering an estate where there is no will is an expensive exercise that's more difficult and costly than it needs to be.
Simple Husband & Wife Will
For a married couple, partnership or civil union situation, we suggest a simple will that provides for the surviving spouse/partner to be appointed as the sole trustee, and for that person to be given the whole of the balance of the estate. On the death of the remaining person, the estate is to be held by trustees for the children of the deceased in equal shares until they reach a stipulated age. Other issues include appointing guardians for minor children, and specific bequests.
A will like this requires the names, addresses and occupations of you, your spouse/partner and the people you want to be your trustees in the event of the second death.
Life Interest Wills
In this case, the assets are given to trustees to hold for the life of the other party, and on their death, or remarriage (etc), assets go to the children of the deceased in equal shares.
We will use our skills and experience to assess your situation and select the right will product for you and
Be very careful of the online wills and will kits that are available. One size does not fit all. Some trustee companies offer free wills. There is nothing wrong with them but be very careful that you completely understand the costs of administering the estates where the trustee company is the executor of the estate.