Lifelaw May Newsletter

Separate Property – protecting what is yours as yours

Did you know that in a relationship of three or more years in length, most property which is acquired during that relationship will be shared equally if the relationship ends?

There are a few types of property which are always classified as separate property if they are not mixed in with the relationship property.

If you receive an inheritance or a gift from a third party, it is important that you treat it as your own by popping it into a bank account in your sole name, or using it only for yourself and not as a part of your relationship.

For example, if your grandfather leaves you a sum of money in his will and you put it in a term deposit in your name only, that money will remain yours regardless of a relationship split. However, if you decide to use the cash to renovate the house which you live in with your partner, it is highly likely that the inheritance will become relationship property and you will have to share it at the end of the day.  Similarly, if you are given a classic car by the neighbour and it is used by both yourself and your significant other, it may become relationship property.

A Contracting Out Agreement allows couples to decide for themselves what is separate and what is relationship property regardless of how it is used and provides a framework to decide on how all of your property is treated if you were to split. So, if you are looking to use that classic car as the family wagon, you can stipulate it is yours in a Contracting Out Agreement and therefore be able to keep it as your own if your relationship should come to an end.

Get in touch with us if you are wanting to protect what is yours as yours.

Protecting your most valuable business asset

What do you think is your most valuable business asset?  Your shiny new machinery?  Your expensive IT system?  Your great team of people?

None of the above.  It’s your brand.

While determining a monetary value is complicated, it is clear that your brand is the most valuable asset your business owns. Experts say the All Blacks brand is valued at more than $280 million while the Air New Zealand brand is worth an eye-watering $807 million.  However, it’s not just the high-profile organisations and massive blue chip multinational’s who should protect their brand – it’s start-ups, SMEs and even someone with a highly promising concept, product or invention.

Why we hear you ask?  It’s your brand that communicates your business values, helping customers remember certain qualities about your products, services and performance. It’s what differentiates you from your competitors and what makes your business recognisable.  Your brand is intrinsically linked to your overall reputation and without it you simply don’t have a product or service to sell.

Stop and think for a minute about how you protect your tangible assets and your people assets.  There’s insurances, security, succession plans… the list goes on.  Now consider what you’ve done to protect your most valuable asset – your brand.

It’s alarming how many established businesses who don’t have registered trade marks.  This is the main tool to prevent others from using or damaging your brand and give you some legal clout if your brand is ever under threat.

A few simple steps now will allow you to protect your brand and Intellectual Property, and put you in a strong position if issues should come up in the future.

A common deterrent is cost but it is minimal compared to other asset protection you have in place.  And the good news for Lane Neave clients is that our specialist IP team offer a free, no obligation, brand audit so you can make sure all your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.

Lawyers require more client information under new Anti Money Laundering laws

Changes to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML Act) come into force on 1 July 2017. The changes have been put in place to better protect New Zealand against criminal activity and enhance our international reputation as a safe place to do business.

Due diligence

These changes mean that Lane Neave and all other law firms in New Zealand must undertake a higher level of due diligence with clients, including accessing specific identification in a wider range of circumstances than we do currently, verifying the source of funds and reporting suspicious transactions.

In a nutshell, Lane Neave is required to make certain background checks before providing legal service. We must take reasonable steps to make sure the information we receive from our clients is correct, and so need to ask for documents that prove this.

Information we need to obtain and verify includes:

  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your address

To verify the information is correct we will need to see documents such as your passport, driver’s licence or your birth certificate, and documents that show your address, such as a current bank statement or utility bill.

If you are planning to engage with us about corporate business or a trust business, we will need information about the company or trust including directors and shareholders, trustees and beneficiaries.

In some cases we may also need to ask you for addition information and ask you about the nature and purpose of the proposed work you are asking us to undertake for you. It is also a legal requirement for us to confirm the source of funds in a transaction.

What if you can’t provide the information required under the AML/CFT Act?

If you can’t provide us with the information required to complete due diligence we won’t be able to represent you. The law is very strict and applies to every individual and company who engages a law firm in New Zealand. This is also the case if you’ve been a longstanding client of ours.

We’ll make is as easy as possible and let you know what information we require before we start working with you.

Lane Neave also has a compliance officer on staff who oversees our AML/CFT programme, including staff training. We are also committed to regularly undertaking assessment of risks and reporting concerns to the necessary authorities.

Don’t hesitate to contact one of our team if you have any queries or concerns.

Lifelaw team

If you have any queries in respect of the above, or any other Lifelaw issues, please contact a member of our Team:

Lifelaw team: Stephen Jeffery, Monica Ryan, Gerard Thwaites, Chris Anderson, Giana Fyfe, Sarah Bennett, Lily Cain, Rosemary Aitken, Sherie Adams, Cindy Thom, Vanessa Boyd, Lisa Penn.

In this edition:


When life decisions are everything.

lifelaw team

Stephen Jeffery - Christchurch private client lawyer and part of the Lane Neave Lifelaw teamStephen Jeffery

t +64 3 353 8050
m +64 21 669 925
(click to email)

Monica Ryan - Christchurch private client lawyer and part of the Lane Neave Lifelaw teamMonica Ryan

t +64 3 372 6335
m +64 21 665 286
(click to email)

Gerard Thwaites - Christchurch private client lawyer and part of the Lane Neave Lifelaw teamGerard Thwaites

t +64 3 353 8025
m +64 29 233 3447
(click to email)

Chris Anderson - Christchurch private client lawyer and part of the Lane Neave Lifelaw teamChris Anderson
Senior Associate

t +64 3 371 7690
m +64 21 65 6672
(click to email)

Giana Fyfe - Christchurch private client lawyer and part of the Lane Neave Lifelaw teamGiana Fyfe

t +64 3 372 6385
(click to email)


Sarah Bennett - Christchurch private client lawyer and part of the Lane Neave Lifelaw teamSarah Bennett

t +64 3 372 6385
(click to email)


Lily Cain
Law Clerk

t +64 3 372 6396
(click to email)


Rosemary Aitken

t +64 3 379 3720
m +64 21 223 6327
(click to email)

Sherie Adams
Property Law Executive

t +64 3 371 7699
(click to email)


Cindy Thom
Registered Legal Executive

t +64 3 372 6304
(click to email)


Vanessa Boyd
Registered Legal Executive

t +64 3 372 6336
(click to email)


Lisa Penn
Trust & Estate Accountant

t +64 3 371 7697
(click to email)

Disclaimer: The content of these articles are general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.