Bought a House? How Do You Protect Your Assets?
It’s done! You’ve settled the residential property conveyancing process, received the keys to your new home, and your family is finally ready to settle in. While the kids may still be fighting over who gets the bigger room, everyone is looking forward to making new memories well into the future. As a parent or grandparent, you’ll want to keep this home safe and protected for future generations to come. So what are the best ways to ensure the most security with the minimum amount of legal headache?
Here at HomeLegal, we provide expert property law advice for homebuyers across Wellington, showing them ways to safeguard their new assets. Read up on some easy ways you can protect your family home below.
Create a family trust
A family trust is one of the most common methods of legal protection in New Zealand, and is specifically designed to protect the ownership of our assets. By transferring legal ownership of your assets to a trust, your family no longer personally owns the house but still exists for your benefit. In this way, your home is protected against claims and creditors, your children keep their inheritances, and it’s easier to ward off the risk of unwanted claims on your estate. A trust is also managed by the trustees, creating a safety net for your assets that can’t be removed by just one person.
Make sure you have a Relationship Property Agreement
If you’re in a relationship and wish to acknowledge differing financial contributions toward the purchase, a Relationship Property Agreement allows you to record the differing financial contributions and divide the property on your terms.
This means you and your partner will be contracting out of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and it is a written acknowledgement of your individual contributions. Each party must have separate lawyers to provide them with independent legal advice regarding the implications of the agreement and how they will divide the property if the relationship ends, to ensure that both parties of the relationship are fully informed of what they are signing.
Get a Will – and update it when major events happen
You want to make sure you leave clear, legal instructions about what happens to your home when you pass away. Your will should reflect your current wishes and circumstances, ensuring the right people inherit your property, and in the way you choose.
If you pass away ‘intestate’ (i.e. without a will), this can be a trying time for your family. Your estate will be divided according to the Administration Act 1969, which is generally not the best-case scenario. Furthermore, a will can help prevent disputes in court when you are unable to give testimony on your intentions. A will doesn’t just outline gifting, it prevents any further pain or in-fighting within your family.
Protect your future with an Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), ensures that someone can act for you if you are unable to do so due to sickness, accident or injury. There are two types of EPA – one in relation to personal care and welfare, and the other relating to property.
Having EPAs can give you peace of mind knowing that you’ve appointed someone to make decisions in your best interests. While some choose to elect a trusted family member or partner, your appointed person can be anyone you trust who you believe will respect your wishes and feelings. A lawyer must also witness your signature on the document and ensure you understand all your options, what the EPA means, and that it meets all necessary legal requirements.
Get a great legal team to help protect your home
You may think that the future is far, far away – but it’s never too early to prepare for what lies ahead. With a little help from a great legal team, you can ensure that your family assets are protected well into the future. Call 0508 HOMELEGALtoday for trusted property advice Wellington wide!