Maria side

Qualifications

LLB (Canterbury)

Postgraduate Dip, (Business Admin) (Canterbury)

TEP

Alternative contacts

Nicky front

Nicky Kent

Jenna side

Jenna Tolchard

Maria has two roles in our firm. She is a recognised specialist in trust law, estate law and elder law. She is also the leader of the trusts and estates team and responsible for ensuring excellent client service.

As a specialist in trust law Maria has advised individuals and families throughout New Zealand and overseas, with all aspects of asset planning. including complex trust structures, Wills and Powers of Attorney. She also provides independent legal advice to other professionals on trust and estate questions.

She assists trustee and beneficiary clients to resolve trust and estate disputes.

Maria has long been a strong advocate of prudent governance and effective administration of trusts. She acts as a professional trustee for many trusts, including a significant charitable trust.

"I realised that many clients consider the prospect of dealing with a lawyer on personal matters very stressful. My aim is to engage well with my clients to grow trust and confidence to facilitate information sharing. I can then provide them with practical legal solutions which achieve the best outcome for them as well as peace of mind."


Maria is a member of the New Zealand Law Society and the International Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP). She is a contributing editor with the legal publisher LexizNexis for LexisNexis Practical Guidance on Trusts and has been a regular presenter at law conferences over a number of years.

Prior to joining Cavell Leitch, Maria specialised in business and commercial law, both in New Zealand and overseas. While working in Papua New Guinea she advised the government on multi-lateral trade agreements and World Bank Loans.

Recent work

  • Reviewing Trust Deeds in light of the Trusts Act 2019 and advising clients, both trustees and beneficiaries, on what this new Act means in practical terms for them and how their trust needs to be administered
  • Started assisting clients with the restructuring of their family trusts just prior to change in Brightline test, liaising with clients’ tax adviser urgently on 24th March 2021, then changing strategies and restructuring advice and documentation to ensure we were still meeting our clients’ objectives
  • Completed a legal “Health Check” for a retired couple and advised them how to structure their affairs to minimise family fallout after they had both passed away
  • Settled a fallout between members of a family in an acrimonious estate dispute and documented the outcome in a Deed of Family Arrangement This meant we could distribute the estate, rather than the dispute going to court

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