Tarsha Makgill

The first installment of Ten Tips for Saving your Family from Legal Disputes ended on a light-hearted note about a very serious matter – Kayne West and his sage advice to get a pre-nuptial agreement. 

Here are our five final tips gleaned from many years of assisting clients through family disputes.

Should you need advice about a dispute, the Family and Dispute Resolution team at Lewis Lawyers are experts at guiding you through the process, with a focus on achieving your goals as efficiently as possible. Contact Tarsha Makgill on tarsha.makgill@lewislawyers.co.nz or Keryn Morgan on keryn.morgan@lewislawyers.co.nz 

  • Review your pre-nup – Review your pre-nuptial agreement at least every five years, yes you read that right! This is another awkward document to discuss (Wills being the awkward document we discussed in Part 1). We agree that there is no good time to bring this up with your partner, so why not make an occasion of it and have a pre-nup (or contracting out agreement) chat over dinner and drinks. Mention that you read this article and it might be a good time to check that you are both still happy with it. If there is anything that needs updating or if there has been a major change in circumstances since it was drafted, which would cause serious injustice to one of the parties, then arrange for a variation of your contracting out agreement to be drafted and signed off by your solicitors. 
  • Be civil – type that nasty email, just don’t send it! – If you are separating, try to be civil with your former partner. We understand that this is a difficult ask given that emotions are running high and behavior from other parties can be at an all-time low. Just remind yourself how much money you will both save if you and your former partner can agree how your assets will be divided and their approximate value. You will both need independent legal advice and a solicitor to sign your separation agreement. 
  • Include family in succession planning – If you own a farm or other business and want to keep it in the family, have your adult kids and their partners involved in discussions around succession planning. Again, this involves some time and difficult conversations upfront, but it may save a whole lot of time and legal drama further down the track.
  • Keep notes about legal decisions – Keep notes recording significant conversations with family about your Will, pre-nuptial agreement or other legal issue. Date and sign them. Keep them with copies of your Will etc or give them to your solicitor to keep on your file. This will really help your family and solicitor to sort out any issues that may arise when you are gone.  
  • Get Enduring Powers of Attorney – An Enduring Power of Attorney for Property and for your Personal Care and Welfare is a good idea. Appoint people that you and other family members trust to make good decisions for you, when you are no longer in a position to make them for yourself. 

If you need help getting your family’s legal affairs in order, please contact us on (07) 827 5147 or email us at reception@lewislawyers.co.nz.

If you require legal advice to navigate a family or civil dispute, please contact:

Tarsha Makgill on Tarsha.Makgill@lewislawyers.co.nz or Dayna Dustan on Dayna.Dustan@lewislawyers.co.nz at Lewis Lawyers. 

This article is current at the date of publication. It is intended to provide general comments only about legislation and case law. Lewis Lawyers accept no responsibility due to reliance by any person or organisation on the content of this article. Please contact the author of this article if you require specific advice about how this applies to you and your circumstances.