This is an updated version of an earlier post

Q: I would be grateful for information about any legal requirements that must be met with respect to the period of time that a trust must retain any documents, such as minutes of meetings, financial records, correspondence, etc

A: We visited the website of the Archives & Records Association of NZ but could not identify anything specifically relating to non-profits, charitable trusts etc.

The Trusts Act 2019 includes requirements for  a trust (specifically the Trustees) to retain copies of key documents, DIA Charities commenting:

“Know your trust rules and keep a copy of key documents

The duties show how important it is to read and know your trust’s rules, and the Act reflects this by requiring all trustees to hold a copy of the rules and any variations to them. There are other documents that trustees need to keep (e.g. records of decisions, contracts, financial statements), but these can be held by one trustee on behalf of all trustees. It’s important all trustees have access to these records and we recommend they are kept electronically.”  <see complete article>

Sections 45-48 of the Act relate to documents to be retained by Trustees including the requirement that trustees retain the requisite documents during their tenure and pass over any such documents to their successor.

What happens when a trust is wound up?

There does not appear to be anything in the legislation (Trusts Act 2019 or Charitable Trusts Act 1957) about trust documents once the trust is wound up.

We received the following general advice from a lawyer a couple of years ago (before the new Trusts Act came into effect), and believe the general advice remains sound.

“The formal records of a trust (agendas and minutes and formal reports to the trustees etc) must be kept for the lifetime of the trust [per the Trusts Act] , and financial records must be kept for 7 years per IRD requirements – though many trusts archive these also.  As I understand it, correspondence and minor papers can be judiciously weeded after a suitable period.  I have no idea who checks these things. My guess it that they only get checked if there is a problem, so on this basis, many trusts archive everything!”


Please note: We are not lawyers, the above comment should not be considered legal advice. We would welcome comment, or correction in particular from a lawyer.