ARL in the Community
ARL Charitable Trust supported Epuni School Camp
The rain may have dampened the ground, but not the children’s smiles as the year five and six students from Epuni School clamped on their harnesses and flew down the zip line.
This year, the camp was made possible by ARL Lawyers Charitable Trust and other grants, donations, and fundraising—to the extent that the camp was fully funded. Janet Evans, Principal of Epuni School, said that without the support the camp may not have happened. “We wouldn’t run it with some children, it would be everyone or no one. We were looking for sponsorship to reduce the costs, so it was doable for families, but having it fully funded made a huge difference to our families. We are a decile three school and many families initially thought, my kid can’t go.”
And to see the children’s faces as they achieved something that they thought they couldn’t do, was amazing.” said Evans.
School Camp provides students with opportunities to step out of their comfort zone, take risks and have a go at something different. The instructors are great and soon identify which students they can push a little bit more. “One of the challenges was the students were put in groups and had to get across a plank in age order, but they weren’t allowed to get off the plank. They had to rely on each other to achieve some of the activities.” Evans said.
The students are learning without knowing they are learning because they are having fun. “One little boy was told to wipe the table. He’d never wiped a table and didn’t know how to do it! So, they’re learning what we think are basic skills, but some don’t know about that sort of stuff” said Evans
What the students are learning at this camp is resilience and taking responsibility for what they’re doing, which fits in with Epuni School’s values — resilience, relationships, responsibility and respect. They are getting to live these values in a different environment.
“When I was down at archery this morning, when any kid got it into the bullseye, they all cheered and then when they got me to have a go and I hit the bullseye everybody cheered. It was so cool. It’s creating a real sense of belonging as well” said Evans.
If the supporters and funders could see the children’s faces, they would know they have impacted these young lives.
ARL Lawyers expand their scholarship programme
The ARL Lawyers Academic Excellence Scholarship programme has expanded. Traditionally, this scholarship has been awarded to High Valley High School. This year, ARL Lawyers have expanded the programme to include Naenae College and Wainuiomata High School.
The successful recipients were Joseph Quinlan, from Wainuiomata High School, Safari Hynes (Head Boy) from Hutt Valley High School, and Wesley Tanuvasa (Dux) from Naenae College.
All three students are interested in different areas of law and are going on to study Law at Victoria University of Wellington. Quinlan is interested in Employment Law, Hynes is interested in law along with Public Policy and Te Reo, and Tanuvasa is interested in Commercial Law.
The students were hosted at a morning tea at the ARL offices, where Paul Logan, Partner, wished them all the best for their academic success as well as success as well-rounded citizens who will give back to the community.
ARL Lawyers are “making it happen.”
From left to right:
Ben Sheehan, Partner, Joseph Quinlan, Rebecca Dickie, Partner, Wesley Tanuvasa, Ian Avison, Partner, Sarah Morrison, Partner, Safari Hynes, and Paul Logan, Partner
First Home buyers – what does the process involve?
If you have never bought a property before, it can be an intimidating prospect. Here’s an outline of the usual process to help get you underway.
1. Finding a house
You can seek out houses either through a real estate agency or by a private agreement (sometimes called a private treaty) between the homeowner and yourself.
2. Get a lawyer
You will need to have a lawyer or conveyancing professional acting for you in order to complete the purchase. They will be able to advise you of each step and help you with the documents required along the way.
3. Arranging finance
If you are getting a loan you will need confirmation from your bank that your application for this lending has been approved, which you can get while you house hunt. You can also complete your initial KiwiSaver forms to start the process of receiving your KiwiSaver first home withdrawal and home start grants before you sign. These forms can be downloaded online.
4. Receiving the SPA
Once you have found a house and contacted the agent or vendor about making an offer, generally the agent will prepare an Agreement for Sale & Purchase (Agreement). We always advise you to send a copy to your lawyer to review prior to signing. If time restraints mean you cannot do this, we suggest at least asking your lawyer to provide a ‘solicitor’s approval clause’ to include in the Agreement. This gives your lawyer time to review all aspects of the Agreement after you have signed and during the conditional period (see below).
5. Conditional Period
If your Agreement has no conditions included when you sign it, then it becomes unconditional upon signing, and generally cannot be cancelled.
If your Agreement has conditions included when you sign, then you will have a specified amount of time to carry out those conditions. Common conditions in an Agreement include obtaining a building report, LIM report, methamphetamine testing, arranging finance, property title approval, solicitor’s approval and insurance.
At the end of the specified time period for each condition, your lawyer will need to advise the vendor’s lawyer whether the relevant condition is or is not satisfied. You can ask the vendor for an extension if you need more time to satisfy a condition, but the vendor does not have to say ‘yes’. Once both parties have satisfied the relevant conditions, the agreement becomes unconditional.
Once unconditional, you will be required to pay the deposit for the property. If you do not pay the deposit, the vendor can make demand requiring payment. If it is still unpaid, and sufficient notice has been issued to you by the vendor, the vendor is entitled to cancel the agreement.
7. Settlement preparation
Once unconditional, your lawyer will begin preparing the relevant documents for you to sign prior to the settlement date and will liaise with your KiwiSaver provider (if applicable) and bank to prepare for settlement. You will also need to arrange insurance.
You can re-inspect the property up to one day prior to settlement. If as a result of your pre-purchase inspection, you identify damage that has occurred since you signed the Agreement, or fixed chattels that are no longer working (e.g. oven, dishwasher, heated towel rail), your lawyer can raise the issues with the vendor’s lawyer to negotiate a solution.
9. Settlement day
On settlement day your lawyer will complete the transfer of the property to you once all the funds have been received and paid to the vendor’s lawyer. The lawyers will then advise the agent the house keys can be released so you can move in.
Wills — what happens when people die without one?
A will is a legal document that lets you decide how you want your property, care for your dependents and your body to be dealt with after you die. A will only comes into effect once you die and is arguably the most important document you will ever sign.
A well-drafted will can reduce emotional and financial strain for your loved ones after you pass away, and it reduces the likelihood of family members arguing over your estate.
A will usually includes:
- Your requested funeral arrangements
- The appointment of trusted members of your family, close friends or professionals to administer your estate (known as executors of your estate)
- The appointment of guardians for young children (in the event their other parent does not survive you)
- Specific gifts to individuals or donations to charities
- Who you would like to inherit your personal belongings and your general assets such as furniture and appliances
- Debts owing to be repaid or loans provided by you to be forgiven
- Provision for your beneficiaries (usually your partner, children and/or grandchildren). If your will does not adequately provide for your dependents, they can make a claim against your estate
We recommend that regardless of how much property you have, you should make a will.
It is particularly important for those who marry, enter a civil union or de facto relationship, or have children to make a will. If you get married or enter a civil union, provisions of any will made before that are automatically revoked unless the will specifically states otherwise. If you enter into a de facto relationship, any will made before that remains valid. If your relationship ends, you should review your will to ensure that any specific provisions for the benefit of your ex-partner are removed before any relationship settlements are made. When you get divorced, any provisions made for your ex-partner are automatically revoked.
Dying without a will is also known as dying ‘intestate’. This means:
- If the value of your estate is above $15,000, the Administration Act 1969 determines how your property is distributed, which may not align with your wishes and may result in disputes over your estate. Generally, the property is distributed to a surviving spouse and family members in specified proportions. This process can be more time consuming, costly and complicated than having a valid will.
- Your administrators can still administer your estate if you die intestate, but they will be restricted by the Administration Act 1969. The High Court can appoint a personal representative such as a family member or lawyer to administer your estate. The person who benefits most from the estate is entitled to apply to be an administrator. However, if that person does not wish to be the administrator, others can be appointed by the Court. If there are no family members to distribute the estate to, it then goes to the Government.
Everybody should draft a will during their lifetime to protect their loved ones and ensure that property is dealt with in accordance with their wishes. We always recommend seeking legal advice when making a will to ensure your intentions are accurately recorded with no room for ambiguity and reviewing your will regularly to ensure it continues to reflect your wishes.
Relationship property includes both assets and liabilities and is property obtained throughout the relationship which is intended for the common use or benefit of the relationship. It is usually divided 50/50 unless this division can be disputed in a way set out in the Act or there are certain mitigating factors (such as the length of the relationship, any dependent children, significant economic advantage or disadvantage).
Separate property is property obtained outside of the relationship that is not for the common use and benefit of the relationship e.g. a taonga or heirloom, or property that was received as a gift or through succession (as long as it is not the family home or can be classified as a family chattel).
Any property which either party has introduced into the relationship can become relationship property. If a contribution has been made that increases the value of separate property, it may become relationship property.
When a relationship ends, the distribution of relationship property can occur by way of:
- Mutual agreement – it is becoming more common for parties to agree on an equal division of their property prior to seeing their lawyers to document their agreement. Once agreement is reached, the parties can sign a Separation & Relationship Property Agreement (RPA) recording the agreed division of their property. To be valid, an RPA must be in writing and signed, both parties must have obtained independent legal advice, the RPA must be witnessed by the lawyers, and the lawyers must explain the effects and implications of the agreement and certify that they have done so.
- Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) – the parties can choose to attend FDR to resolve matters with the assistance of a mediator.
- Court proceedings – in circumstances where the parties cannot reach agreement, they can apply to the Family Court for a decision on how their property should be classified and divided. The Court can consider whether there should be any variation to a 50/50 split to the division of assets based on each party’s contributions. Going to court for these matters can be costly and time-consuming. It is $700 to make an application to the Family Court, and then $906 fee each half day if a hearing is required, excluding lawyer’s fees.
It is always hard when a relationship ends, and we recognise negotiating a division of your assets can only complicate things further. For advice and assistance, please contact Sarah Morrison.