6.16This recommendation brings trust law into line with other legislation, such as the Minors’ Contracts Act 1969, the Care of Children Act 2004 and the Wills Act 2007. Under New Zealand law an 18 year old has the same legal capacity and the same capability as a 20 year old for most purposes. It would be discriminatory to leave the age of majority under the trusts statute at 20 years as there is no objectively assessable reason for distinguishing between 18 and 20 year olds in this context.
6.17Nearly all submitters commenting on this issue supported the proposal. Several were concerned that many 18 year olds may not have sufficient maturity for it to be desirable for them to receive trust property and have the rights of an adult beneficiary. However, we are not convinced that departing from the now generally accepted age of adulthood can be justified in this context. Settlors will always be free to set terms of trust that provide an alternative age for when beneficiaries receive property.