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Inheritances now in jeopardy

Shane Ardern

National Rural Affairs Spokesperson


22 November 2000

Inheritances now in jeopardy

"The Government is intent on passing legislation which will have dramatic effects on the rural community, despite warnings from the New Zealand Law Society about the consequences," National's Rural Affairs spokesperson Shane Ardern said today.

"Marriage is an important institution. People choose to make a public commitment to their relationship. Equally some people choose to live in a de-facto relationship. This is what choice is all about - but not any more. The Property (Relationship) Bill is bad legislation and should not be passed.

"The Bill means that if you are in a relationship at present, you are already counting down towards the three year trigger which will automatically make your partner eligible for part of your assets, debts and property.

"The legislation does not allow any choice in the matter - if you live together for three years, and maybe acquire some furniture together, perform household duties, share some expenses - then according to this law it is a relationship.

"Farm properties, which have been left to a spouse but intended to eventually pass over to the children, are now in jeopardy. If that surviving spouse enters into a new relationship they become effectively 'married' to the new partner, who will gain full property rights regardless of their financial input.

"There is an 'opt out' clause, which requires the agreement of the new partner basically signing away their rights to any claim on the property. However if the partner refuses to sign then they retain the rights that this new piece of legislation gives them.

"I advise rural people who may potentially be affected by this poorly designed legislation to consult with their lawyers immediately," Mr Ardern said.

Ends

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