Trusts 101 – A Guide to What They are and How They Work in Australia


With all the talk about Total Super Balance caps and where people will invest money going forward if they can’t get it in to superannuation, the spotlight is being shone on “trusts” at present. This has also brought with it the claims of tax avoidance or tax minimisation, so what exactly are trusts and are there differences between Family Trusts, Units Trusts, Discretionary Trusts and Testamentary Trusts to name a few.

Trusts are a common strategy and this article aims to aid a better understanding of how a trust works, the role and obligations of a trustee, the accounting and income tax implications and some of the advantages and pitfalls. Of course, there is no substitute for specialist legal, tax and accounting advice when a specific trust issue arises and the general information in this article needs to be understood within that context.

Introduction

Trusts are a fundamental element in the planning of business, investment and family financial affairs. There are many examples of how trusts figure in everyday transactions:

  • Cash management trusts and property trusts are used by many people for investment purposes
  • Joint ventures are frequently conducted via unit trusts
  • Money held in accounts for children may involve trust arrangements
  • Superannuation funds are trusts
  • Many businesses are operated through a trust structure
  • Executors of deceased estates act as trustees
  • There are charitable trusts, research trusts and trusts for animal welfare
  • Solicitors, real estate agents and accountants operate trust accounts
  • There are trustees in bankruptcy and trustees for debenture holders
  • Trusts are frequently used in family situations to protect assets and assist in tax planning.

Although trusts are common, they are often poorly understood.

What is a trust?

A frequently held, but erroneous view, is that a trust is a legal entity or person, like a company or an individual. But this is not true and is possibly the most misunderstood aspect of trusts.

A trust is not a separate legal entity. It is essentially a relationship that is recognised and enforced by the courts in the context of their “equitable” jurisdiction. Not all countries recognise the concept of a trust, which is an English invention. While the trust concept can trace its roots back centuries in England, many European countries have no natural concept of a trust, however, as a result of trade with countries which do recognise trusts their legal systems have had to devise ways of recognising them.

The nature of the relationship is critical to an understanding of the trust concept. In English law the common law courts recognised only the legal owner and their property, however, the equity courts were willing to recognise the rights of persons for whose benefit the legal holder may be holding the property.

Put simply, then, a trust is a relationship which exists where A holds property for the benefit of B. A is known as the trustee and is the legal owner of the property which is held on trust for the beneficiary B. The trustee can be an individual, group of individuals or a company. There can be more than one trustee and there can be more than one beneficiary. Where there is only one beneficiary the trustee and beneficiary must be different if the trust is to be valid.

The courts will very strictly enforce the nature of the trustee’s obligations to the beneficiaries so that, while the trustee is the legal owner of the relevant property, the property must be used only for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Trustees have what is known as a fiduciary duty towards beneficiaries and the courts will always enforce this duty rigorously.

The nature of the trustee’s duty is often misunderstood in the context of family trusts where the trustees and beneficiaries are not at arm’s length. For instance, one or more of the parents may be trustees and the children beneficiaries. The children have rights under the trust which can be enforced at law, although it is rare for this to occur.

 

Types of trusts

In general terms the following types of trusts are most frequently encountered in asset protection and investment contexts:

  • Fixed trusts
  • Unit trusts
  • Discretionary trusts – Family Trusts
  • Bare trusts
  • Hybrid trusts
  • Testamentary trusts
  • Superannuation trusts
  • Special Disability Trusts
  • Charitable Trusts
  • Trusts for Accommodation – Life Interests and Rights of Residence

A common issue with all trusts is access to income and capital. Depending on the type of trust that is used, a beneficiary may have different rights to income and capital. In a discretionary trust the rights to income and capital are usually completely at the discretion of the trustee who may decide to give one beneficiary capital and another income. This means that the beneficiary of such a trust cannot simply demand payment of income or capital. In a fixed trust the beneficiary may have fixed rights to income, capital or both.

Fixed trusts

In essence these are trusts where the trustee holds the trust assets for the benefit of specific beneficiaries in certain fixed proportions. In such a case the trustee does not have to exercise a discretion since each beneficiary is automatically entitled to his or her fixed share of the capital and income of the trust.

Unit trusts

These are generally fixed trusts where the beneficiaries and their respective interests are identified by their holding “units” much in the same way as shares are issued to shareholders of a company.

The beneficiaries are usually called unitholders. It is common for property, investment trusts (eg managed funds) and joint ventures to be structured as unit trusts. Beneficiaries can transfer their interests in the trust by transferring their units to a buyer.

There are no limits in terms of trust law on the number of units/unitholders, however, for tax purposes the tax treatment can vary depending on the size and activities of the trust.

Discretionary trusts – Family Trusts

These are often called “family trusts” because they are usually associated with tax planning and asset protection for a family group. In a discretionary trust the beneficiaries do not have any fixed interests in the trust income or its property but the trustee has a discretion to decide whether anyone will receive income and/or capital and, if so, how much.

For the purposes of trust law, a trustee of a discretionary trust could theoretically decide not to distribute any income or capital to a beneficiary, however, there are tax reasons why this course of action is usually not taken.

The attraction of a discretionary trust is that the trustee has greater control and flexibility over the disposition of assets and income since the nature of a beneficiary’s interest is that they only have a right to be considered by the trustee in the exercise of his or her discretion.

Bare trusts

A bare trust exists when there is only one trustee, one legally competent beneficiary, no specified obligations and the beneficiary has complete control of the trustee (or “nominee”). A common example of a bare trust is used within a self-managed fund to hold assets under a limited recourse borrowing arrangement.

Hybrid trusts

These are trusts which have both discretionary and fixed characteristics. The fixed entitlements to capital or income are dealt with via “special units” which the trustee has power to issue.

Testamentary trusts

As the name implies, these are trusts which only take effect upon the death of the testator. Normally, the terms of the trust are set out in the testator’s will and are often used when the testator wishes to provide for their children who have yet to reach adulthood or are handicapped.

Superannuation trusts

All superannuation funds in Australia operate as trusts. This includes self-managed superannuation funds.

The deed (or in some cases, specific acts of Parliament) establishes the basis of calculating each member’s entitlement, while the trustee will usually retain discretion concerning such matters as the fund’s investments and the selection of a death benefit beneficiary.

The Federal Government has legislated to establish certain standards that all complying superannuation funds must meet. For instance, the “preservation” conditions, under which a member’s benefit cannot be paid until a certain qualification has been reached (such as reaching age 65), are a notable example.

Special Disability Trusts

Special Disability Trusts allow a person to plan for the future care and accommodation needs of a loved one with a severe disability. Find out more in this Q & A about Special Disability Trusts.

Charitable Trusts

You may wish to provide long term income benefit to a charity by providing tax free income from your estate, rather than giving an immediate gift. This type of trust is effective if large amounts of money are involved and the purpose of the gift suits a long term benefit e.g. scholarships or medical research.

Trusts for Accommodation – Life Interests and Right of Residence

A Life Interest or Right of Residence can be set up to provide for accommodation for your beneficiary. They are often used so that a family member can have the right to live in the family home for as long as they wish. These trusts can be restrictive so it is particularly important to get professional advice in deciding whether such a trust is right for your situation.

Establishing a trust

Although a trust can be established without a written document, it is preferable to have a formal deed known as a declaration of trust or a deed of settlement. The declaration of trust involves an owner of property declaring themselves as trustee of that property for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The deed of settlement involves an owner of property transferring that property to a third person on condition that they hold the property on trust for the beneficiaries.

The person who transfers the property in a settlement is said to “settle” the property on the trustee and is called the “settlor”.

In practical terms, the original amount used to establish the trust is relatively small, often only $10 or so. More substantial assets or amounts of money are transferred or loaned to the trust after it has been established. The reason for this is to minimise stamp duty which is usually payable on the value of the property initially affected by the establishing deed.

The identity of the settlor is critical from a tax point of view and it should not generally be a person who is able to benefit under the trust, nor be a parent of a young beneficiary. Special rules in the tax law can affect such situations.

Also critical to the efficient operation of a trust is the role of the “appointor”. This role allows the named person or entity to appoint (and usually remove) the trustee, and for that reason, they are seen as the real controller of the trust. This role is generally unnecessary for small superannuation funds (those with fewer than five members) since legislation generally ensures that all members have to be trustees.

The trust fund

In principle, the trust fund can include any property at all – from cash to a huge factory, from shares to one contract, from operating a business to a single debt. Trust deeds usually have wide powers of investment, however, some deeds may prohibit certain forms of investment.

The critical point is that whatever the nature of the underlying assets, the trustee must deal with the assets having regard to the best interests of the beneficiaries. Failure to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries would result in a breach of trust which can give rise to an award of damages against the trustee.

A trustee must keep trust assets separate from the trustee’s own assets.

The trustee’s liabilities

A trustee is personally liable for the debts of the trust as the trust assets and liabilities are legally those of the trustee. For this reason if there are significant liabilities that could arise a limited liability (private) company is often used as trustee.

However, the trustee is entitled to use the trust assets to satisfy those liabilities as the trustee has a right of indemnity and a lien over them for this purpose.

This explains why the balance sheet of a corporate trustee will show the trust liabilities on the credit side and the right of indemnity as a company asset on the debit side. In the case of a discretionary trust it is usually thought that the trust liabilities cannot generally be pursued against the beneficiaries’ personal assets, but this may not be the case with a fixed or unit trust.

Powers and duties of a trustee

A trustee must act in the best interests of beneficiaries and must avoid conflicts of interest. The trustee deed will set out in detail what the trustee can invest in, the businesses the trustee can carry on and so on. The trustee must exercise powers in accordance with the deed and this is why deeds tend to be lengthy and complex so that the trustee has maximum flexibility.

Who can be a trustee?

Any legally competent person, including a company, can act as a trustee. Two or more entities can be trustees of the same trust.

A company can act as trustee (provided that its constitution allows it) and can therefore assist with limited liability, perpetual succession (the company does not “die”) and other advantages. The company’s directors control the activities of the trust. Trustees’ decisions should be the subject of formal minutes, especially in the case of important matters such as beneficiaries’ entitlements under a discretionary trust.

Trust legislation

All states and territories of Australia have their own legislation which provides for the basic powers and responsibilities of trustees. This legislation does not apply to complying superannuation funds (since the Federal legislation overrides state legislation in that area), nor will it apply to any other trust to the extent the trust deed is intended to exclude the operation of that legislation. It will usually apply to bare trusts, for example, since there is no trust deed, and it will apply where a trust deed is silent on specific matters which are relevant to the trust – for example, the legislation will prescribe certain investment powers and limits for the trustee if the deed does not exclude them.

Income tax and capital gains tax issues

Because a trust is not a person, its income is not taxed like that of an individual or company unless it is a corporate, public or trading trusts as defined in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. In essence the tax treatment of the trust income depends on who is and is not entitled to the income as at midnight on 30 June each year.

If all or part of the trust’s net income for tax purposes is paid or belongs to an ordinary beneficiary, it will be taxed in their hands like any other income. If a beneficiary who is entitled to the net income is under a “legal disability” (such as an infant), the income will be taxed to the trustee at the relevant individual rates.

Income to which no beneficiary is “presently entitled” will generally be taxed at highest marginal tax rate and for this reason it is important to ensure that the relevant decisions are made as soon as possible after 30 June each year and certainly within 2 months of the end of the year. The two month “period of grace” is particularly relevant for trusts which operate businesses as they will not have finalised their accounts by 30 June. In the case of discretionary trusts, if this is done the overall amount of tax can be minimised by allocating income to beneficiaries who pay a relatively low rate of tax.

The concept of “present entitlement” involves the idea that the beneficiary could demand immediate payment of their entitlement.

It is important to note that a company which is a trustee of a trust is not subject to company tax on the trust income it has responsibility for administering.

In relation to capital gains tax (CGT), a trust which holds an asset for at least 12 months is generally eligible for the 50% capital gains tax concession on capital gains that are made. This discount effectively “flows” through to beneficiaries who are individuals. A corporate beneficiary does not get the benefit of the 50% discount. Trusts that are used in a business rather than an investment context may also be entitled to additional tax concessions under the small business CGT concessions.

Since the late 1990s discretionary trusts and small unit trusts have been affected by a number of highly technical measures which affect the treatment of franking credits and tax losses. This is an area where specialist tax advice is essential.

Why a trust and which kind?

Apart from any tax benefits that might be associated with a trust, there are also benefits that can arise from the flexibility that a trust affords in responding to changed circumstances.

A trust can give some protection from creditors and is able to accommodate an employer/employee relationship. In family matters, the flexibility, control and limited liability aspects combined with potential tax savings, make discretionary trusts very popular.

In arm’s length commercial ventures, however, the parties prefer fixed proportions to flexibility and generally opt for a unit trust structure, but the possible loss of limited liability through this structure commonly warrants the use of a corporate entity as unitholder ie a company or a corporate trustee of a discretionary trust.

There are strengths and weaknesses associated with trusts and it is important for clients to understand what they are and how the trust will evolve with changed circumstances.

Trusts which incur losses

One of the most fundamental things to understand about trusts is that losses are “trapped” in the trust. This means that the trust cannot distribute the loss to a beneficiary to use at a personal level. This is an important issue for businesses operated through discretionary or unit trusts.

Establishment procedures

The following procedures apply to a trust established by settlement (the most common form of trust):

  • Decide on Appointors and back-up Appointors as they are the ultimate controllers of the trust. They appoint and change Trustees.
  • Settlor determined to establish a trust (should never be anyone who could become a beneficiary)
  • Select the trustee. If the trustee is a company, form the company.
  • Settlor makes a gift of money or other property to the trustee and executes the trust deed. (Pin $10 to the front of the register is the most common way of doing this)
  • Apply for ABN and TFN to allow you open a trust bank account

Establish books of account and statutory records and comply with relevant stamp duty requirements (Hint: Get your Accountant to do this)

Are you looking for an advisor that will keep you up to date and provide guidance and tips like in this blog? then why now contact me at our Castle Hill or Windsor office in Northwest Sydney to arrange a one on one consultation. Just click the Schedule Now button up on the left to find the appointment options.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

Understanding Currency Exposure When Investing Overseas in your SMSF


Investing-Globally

Recent swings in global currencies have brought exchange-rate risk back to the forefront for investors with overseas exposure in different currencies. Currency risks are risks that arise from changes in the relative valuation of different currencies. These changes can create unpredictable gains and losses when the profits or dividends from an investment are converted from a foreign currency back into Australian dollars.

Any investor who holds stocks, ETFs with the likes of iShares, Vanguard or SPDR or managed funds such as  Magellan Global Fund in their SMSF portfolio that invest outside Australia will have some exposure to foreign currency, and where the Aussie dollar exchange rate goes will have an effect on these SMSF portfolios. For instance, a strengthening dollar could negatively impact foreign stock market returns and you should consider this risk in portfolio design.

Interest rates are critical, because when a country’s rate rises, in many cases, so does its currency. Or in our case if the US interest rate rises or at the moment is being held unexpectedly lower by the Us Federal Reserve, our currency’s exchange rate can fluctuate wildly in response to another government’s actions.

Up until recently, this wasn’t much of a worry for Australian investors. Rates were low, the Aussie dollar was getting weaker coming down fro its peak near $1.10 to the US$, and people made money by investing in foreign assets.

Going forward that may not be so easy so its is important for Self Managed Super Fund investors to understand currency exchange risk.

Here is a good video from Blackrock iShares explaining how currency exposure affects returns on international investments.

 

 

Now you should note you can also find Currency Hedged ETFs and Hedged Managed funds (as opposed to a Hedge Fund which is totally different) that can help you easily manage the effect of currency on your investments and can be paired with their unhedged counterparts to tailor currency risk while maintaining consistent equity exposure. Of course there is a cost to implementing this protection but that is what good portfolio risk management is all about.

Do you want some more education on why you should consider international investments as part of your SMSF portfolio? then please check out this previous blog about investing internationally via your SMSF.

Are you looking for an advisor that will keep you up to date and provide guidance and tips like in this blog? Then why now contact me at our Castle Hill or Windsor office in Northwest Sydney to arrange a one on one consultation. Just click the Schedule Now button up on the left to find the appointment options.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

When your Husband Retires and the Nightmare Comes True


Nightmare for Older Women

I deal with a lot of couples where one spouse has retired well in advance of the other and has established a routine or habits they are comfortable with and enjoy. The working spouse is often totally engrossed in their career or business with little else in the way of interests or hobbies. When they do eventually retire they can not only struggle to make the most of the free time, but they can also destroy the lifestyle their parter has come to enjoy.

This letter printed in Newsweek in 2004 sums it up better than I ever could and should be a warning to you to ensure your spouse or partner regardless of gender, has interests that extend beyond their working life.

THE ‘GOLDEN YEARS’ ARE BEGINNING TO TARNISH

My worst nightmare has become reality. My husband retired. As the CEO of his own software company, he used to make important decisions daily. Now he decides when to take a nap and for how long. He does not play golf, tennis or bridge, which means he is at home for what seems like 48 hours a day. That’s a lot of togetherness.

Much has changed since he stopped working. My husband now defines “sleeping in” as staying in bed until 6 a.m. He often walks in the morning for exercise but says he can’t walk if he gets up late. Late is 5:30. His morning routine is to take out the dog, plug in the coffee and await the morning paper. (And it had better not be late!) When the paper finally arrives, his favorite section is the obits. He reads each and every one–often aloud–and becomes angry if the deceased’s age is not listed. I’d like to work on my crossword puzzle in peace. When I bring this to his attention, he stops briefly–but he soon finds another article that must be shared.

Some retirement couples enjoy this time of life together. Usually these are couples who are not dependent on their spouse for their happiness and well-being. My husband is not one of these individuals. Many wives I’ve spoken to identify with my experience and are happy to know that they’re not alone. One friend told me that when her husband retired, he grew a strip of Velcro on his side and attached himself to her. They were married 43 years and she hinted they may not make it to 44. Another woman said her husband not only takes her to the beauty shop, but goes in with her and waits! Another said her husband follows her everywhere but to the bathroom… and that’s only because she locks the bathroom door.

When I leave the house, my husband asks: “Where are you going?” followed by “When will you be back?” Even when I’m at home he needs to know where I am every moment. “Where’s Jan?” he asks the dog. This is bad enough, but at least he hasn’t Velcroed himself to me–yet.

I often see retired couples shopping together in the grocery store. Usually they are arguing. I hate it when my husband goes shopping with me. He takes charge of the cart and disappears. With my arms full of cans, I have to search the aisles until I locate him and the cart, which is now loaded with strange-smelling cheeses, high-fat snacks and greasy sausages–none of which was on the shopping list.

Putting up with annoying habits is easier when hubby is at work all day and at home only in the evening and on weekends. But little annoying habits become big annoying habits when done on a daily basis. Hearing my husband yell and curse at the TV during the evening news was bad enough when he was working, and it was just once a day. Now he has all day to get riled up watching Fox News. Sometimes leaving the house isn’t even a satisfying reprieve. When I went out of town for a week and put him in charge of the house and animals, I returned to have my parrot greet me with a mouthful of expletives and deep-bellied belches. It wasn’t hard to figure out what had been going on in my absence.

Not that my husband has any problem acting out while I’m around. He recently noticed that our cat had been climbing the palm trees, causing their leaves to bend. His solution? Buy a huge roll of barbed wire and wrap the trunks. After wrapping 10 palms, he looked like he had been in a fight with a tiger and the house took on the appearance of a high-security prison. Neighbors stopped midstride while on their daily walks to stare. I stayed out of sight. In the meantime, the cat learned to negotiate the barbed wire and climbed the palms anyway.

It is now another hot, dry summer, and the leaves on our trees are starting to fall. Yesterday my husband decided to take the dog out for some fresh air. They stood in the driveway while he counted the leaves falling from the ash tree. Aloud. Another meaningful retirement activity.

I think my husband enjoys being at home with me. I am the one with the problem. I am a person who needs a lot of “alone time,” and I get crazy when someone is following me around or wanting to know my every move. My husband is full of questions and comments when I am on the phone, working on my computer or taking time out to read. It is his way of telling me he wants to be included, wanted and needed. I love that he cares–but he still drives me up the wall.

I receive a lot of catalogs. In one there is a pillow advertised that says grow old with me. the best is yet to be. Another catalog has a different pillow. It reads screw the golden years. Right now it’s a tossup as to which pillow will best describe our retirement years together. Just don’t ask me while I’m working on my crossword puzzle.

Zeh lives in Houston.

Do you get the point I am trying to get across? Retirement takes as much planning as working years. You still have to fill all those waking hours previously filled with commuting and work. If you don’t plan ahead and ensure your partner does too then you could end up destroying both of your retirements and often your relationship. It is no surprise that their has been a rise in what is term “grey divorce as couples find themselves with an empty nest and only each other for company. We start planning the transition to retirement with clients 5-10 years out to ensure they have covered off all facets of their retirement needs. That’s what a professional planner covers rather than just an investment advisor.

retirement

For some ideas and a list of organisation for retirees to suit all interests you should visit The Seniors Information Service here . They also have some great ideas on Leisure, Lifestyle and Travel

I hope this guidance has been helpful and please take the time to comment. Feedback always appreciated. Please reblog, retweet, like on Facebook etc to make sure we get the news out there. As always please contact me if you want to look at your own options. We have offices in Castle Hill and Windsor but can meet clients anywhere in Sydney or via Skype.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SMSF Loan Arrangements that Contravene Super Laws. SCAM ALERT


With low interest rates and a struggling economy people are often tempted by early release or get rich quick schemes that are promoted on glossy brochures and may look genuine but can destroy your retirement if they go wrong.

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This is an excerpt from a speech by Matthew Bambrick, the ATO’s Assistant Commissioner for SMSF Segment of Superannuation to the Tax Institute.

SMSF loan arrangements that contravene super laws are also on our radar at the moment. We’re concerned that some organisations are promoting arrangements where SMSF assets provide members with a current-day benefit using vehicles such as pooled investment trusts. Put simply, an organisation invites SMSF members to invest their fund’s assets in a pooled investment trust type of product where the scheme operator draws a commission and if this condition is met, monies from the trust can be accessed as a loan by the fund’s members.

This is a simple form of such an arrangement but there are variations such as offering fund members’ relatives an opportunity to apply for a partial mortgage to cover the value of an asset and then invite their family to use their SMSF benefits to invest in a pooled investment trust. Their relatives can then be granted a second mortgage to further finance their investment.

We encourage anyone who has been approached to invest their SMSF monies into a trust, company or investment product and then offered some or all of that money back as a loan, to seek independent, professional advice before proceeding.

Keep an eye on our website as we’ll be publishing more information about these arrangements in a future edition of SMSF News

So we are back to the basic advice that if it seems to good to be true then it is very likely to be a scam or carry high risk of penalties and drawing the ire of the ATO.

If in doubt contact a SMSF Specialist member of the SMSF Association in your local area or drop me a line with some detail for an initial feedback. We can usually easily spot a scam

I will also be updating readers on any scams or “arrangements” that they should be aware of. If it sounds too good to be true then Google the promoters and search for “complaint” “alert” “scam” associated with that name.

The full transcript of the speech covering a number of relevant issues is available here

Are you looking for an advisor that will keep you up to date and provide guidance and tips like in this blog? then why now contact me at our Castle Hill or Windsor office in Northwest Sydney to arrange a one on one consultation. Just click the Schedule Now button up on the left to find the appointment options.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Benefits Of Transferring A Business Property In To Your SMSF – Superannuation Strategy


Years after the 2008 financial crisis and some people have been slow to regain confidence in the share markets and low cash and term deposit interest rates leave them cold. A growing number of people have considered shifting their superannuation to the more self- directed option of a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF). Business Real Property

Small to Medium Business owners have always been at the forefront of adopting SMSFs and they have been particularly interested in this rapidly growing area for greater control of their superannuation savings and the flexibility of investments allowed in a SMSF structure. However the ability to either transfer their business premises into their SMSF via a contribution or sale, depending on their cash flow circumstances, has been attractive to many business owners.

Current legislation governing SMSFs, the SIS Act, allows a SMSF to acquire only three types of assets from the members or a related party. These assets are business real property, widely held managed funds and listed securities (shares).

Business real property is best defined as “any freehold or leasehold interest of the entity in real property where the real property is used wholly and exclusively in one or more businesses (whether carried on by the business or not).” This definition does not allow much leeway so you should seek professional advice to ensure that your property satisfies the requirements of the “wholly and exclusively” business use test and meets the definition of business real property prior to implementing this strategy

Benefits:

  1. Release equity to build the business – you can access superannuation funds to help fund business growth prior to retirement by way of a cash purchase by the SMSF.
  2. Tax minimisation – the property moves in to the concessionally taxed superannuation environment; 15% tax rate while members are in accumulation phase or exempt from tax when members are in pension phase.,
  3. Asset Protection – to protect the value of the business real property in the event of bankruptcy, litigation or changes to your industry destroying your market.
  4. Build funds for retirement – you have a bricks and mortar investment to boost your retirement funds earning market rent at concessional rates with the ability to avoid any CGT if sold later.
  5. If you are seeking new premises then buying in your super fund allows you the security of tenure that comes with being your own landlord.
  6. Helps in preparing a business for transfer or sale. If the new owner or family members cannot afford to buy the business and the property, you can sell the business premises and lease them the property.

Risks:

  1. You shoudl always ensure the strategy meets the Sole Purpose test of providing for your retirement. It should stack up as a stand-alone investment in  its own right.
  2. If your business should fail and you can no longer lease the premises the you are hit with a double whammy with no income in your personal name and possibly an asset that is hard to lease to a new third-party
  3. While it may be a sound investment now, things may change and your company may outgrow the premises leaving you again with a commercial property that may be hard to sell to extract equity for your next move.
  4. Commercial, retail and industrial property is often a good income orientated investment with income well above that available from residential property but rarely sees the same degree of capital growth. You need to be aware of the trade-off and a diversified portfolio should be considered.
  5. Once you are in pension phase you will need to fund pensions so you need to ensure liquidity in the fund. This is fine while rented or you can make contributions but remember if not working after age 65 you cannot make further contributions to help with liquidity.

Transfers of business real property purchased from related parties must be transferred at current market value as if the transaction was to occur on an arm’s length basis. This requirement allows for very little manipulation of the market value and heavy penalties could apply if any transfer value didn’t stand up to audit and ATO scrutiny.

So you have three of more options when it comes to the strategy. Your SMSF can buy the property utilising cash currently within the SMSF as a normal purchase. If your fund does not have enough cash then you can look at using a Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement to borrow the shortfall. More details on that strategy can be found here.

Alternatively, you can structure the deal as an in-specie transfer (a contribution of an asset, in this case property, instead of cash). You are still subject to member contribution caps but we have moved properties worth up to $1,000,000 in for couples and $2,000,000 where the SMSF had 4 members using a combination of concessional contributions limits and the 3-year bring forward rule on non-concessional limits.

The whole deal has been sweetened by the fact that a number of the State Revenue Offices including NSW OSR have allowed concessional stamp duty stamp ($500) on in-specie property transfers whereby no cash has changed hands. This stamp duty saving can make transferring the business premises into a SMSF much more attractive. It should be noted that stamp duty is a state tax with no uniformity between states. Please seek legal advice always when dealing with stamp duty on property transfers and tax advice when moving assets between entities.

Remember the core philosophy behind Superannuation is that they must adhere to the Sole Purpose Test. While a strategy may help your business currently, its primary goal should be to provide for your retirement so the investment should always stand up as a viable investment regardless of your internal lease arrangements.
Check out the most common mistakes people make when dealing with property, borrowing and a SMSF here:

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 3: 20 most common mistakes

SMSF Borrowing: What Can I Do With An Investment Property Within The Rules.

Stamp Duty on Transfers of Property to an SMSF as at 01 Jan 2015

Keep updated by putting an email address in on the left hand column and pressing the “Sign me up!” button. 

Are you looking for an advisor that will keep you up to date and provide guidance and tips like in this blog? then why now contact me at our Castle Hill or Windsor office in Northwest Sydney to arrange a one on one consultation. Just click the Schedule Now button up on the left to find the appointment options.

Bye for now.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

Landlords Insurance – a must for your SMSF Property


I trained in General Insurance in the UK after my Graduation and much of that time was in the complaints, claims and product design departments. So I know how things go wrong when people take out unsuitable policies or under-insure their properties. 24 years later and  nothing has changed, so I have been recommending people use a General Insurance Broker if they are inexperienced,  lack confidence or want help and advice about insuring their business, liability or property assets.

That brings me to the title of this blog and I asked my preferred Insurance Broker here in the Hills District of Sydney, who operates countrywide, to explain the insurance requirements for an SMSF buying property

Don’t skimp on your insurances because when the time comes and you have a claim, you won’t be congratulating yourself on how much money you saved on your insurance premiums.

If you have purchased property in your SMSF it is important for you to take the correct steps to insure your investment.

If you borrow against the assets in your SMSF the mortgagor will require you to have adequate cover for the asset and for the Liability obligations of the SMSF. If the assets of the fund cover the purchase in full however you are still required as Trustee of the fund to correctly insure the funds interests. The fund is not permitted to “self-insure” any assets or property. The ATO has strict guidelines regarding the duties and obligations of SMSF trustees so it is important to get your insurance program right.

All insurances for the SMSF must be in the name of the fund. You cannot have personal items or assets listed on a policy in your funds name, and likewise you cannot have your fund’s assets listed on a personal policy for some of your personal assets.

As with all insurances, you really do get what you pay for. The more optional extras you include in your policy the more protection you will have. Let’s go through a fairly standard Landlords Insurance policy and give some simple definitions of each section. Like your personal household insurance policy your landlord’s policy will have cover for both your Building and for your Contents. These are fairly standard; however it is important to read the definitions to determine which items come under which section of cover. You may be in for a surprise if you haven’t studied the wording properly.

Where a Landlords Insurance policy differs in comparison to your standard household insurance is in the additional covers offered.

  • Loss of Rent – This is to cover your lost income if you have a claim under your building and contents cover, and the property becomes uninhabitable as a result.
  • Strata Title Mortgagee’s Protection – This covers the mortgagee named in the Schedule as if they were “You” on the same terms as Section1 against physical loss or physical damage caused by any of the Defined Events (it does not include the Additional Benefits).
  • Deliberate Damage and/or Theft by Tenants – Cover for physical damage arising from deliberate, intentional or malicious acts and acts of theft to the Building or Contents by the Tenant.
  • Tenant Default – This cover if for loss of rent, payable by the Tenant, which arises from damage covered under the Deliberate Damage/Theft by Tenant section above or from breach of a written Lease agreement.

Chances are you’ve worked hard at acquiring your assets and building your Super for your retirement. Don’t skimp on your insurances because when the time comes and you have a claim, you won’t be congratulating yourself on how much money you saved on your insurance premiums. Instead you will be hoping your insurance policy will respond to your claim.

If you’re at all unsure on what you need, talk to an Insurance Broker. If you don’t know an insurance broker, then speak to the people you trust with your Investments and your accounts because they should be able to put you in touch with an Insurance broker they trust.

For more information please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The SMSF Coach or Verante Financial Planning do not request or receive any commissions or referral fees from recommending services from Insurance brokers, we just want the best professional advice for our clients.

For more detail on Investing in Property through an SMSF check out our previous articles

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 1: Background

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 2: The Process

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 3: 20 most common mistakes

SMSF Borrowing: What Can I Do With An Investment Property Within The Rules.

Can I borrow to buy a house and land package off the plan in my SMSF?

Keep updated by putting an email address in on the left hand column and pressing the “Sign me up!” button. Happy to take comments in the section below.

Bye for now.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

Buying a Property for your SMSF – Why Use a Buyers Agent


I openly admit that I am not an expert in choosing properties (indeed my own personal history with property investing is dismal to say the least!). I work on the structure and strategy with my clients and recommend they do their own in-depth property research or lately I have been recommending people use a Buyer’s Agent if they are inexperienced or lack confidence or want help and advice but need to know that person is working 100% on their behalf.

That brings me to the title of this blog and I asked a local Buyer’s Agent here in the Hills District of Sydney who operates countrywide to explain the role and benefits of a Buyer’s Agent.  So here is our first Guest Post from Louis Fourie of My Choice Properties – Property Investment Advice | Buyers Advocacy | Real Estate Consulting

“Empowering clients to make the right choices!” –

My Choice Properties

Louis Fourie Property Advisor & Buyers Agent

Searching or looking for a home to live in or investing in property, could at best be an intimidating experience. You wouldn’t invest half a million dollars in a business without a strategy or without a business plan, then why would you invest that, or even more, into a property without a plan or strategy? With a process of consultation we determine what clients really need to reach their own personal property goals. Through step by step professional guidance we determine a strategy suitable to our clients needs and finally implement that strategy, finding the home or investment property that credibly suits the designed and agreed personal property strategy.

Why use us as your Property Investment Advisor and Buyers Agent:

  1. We work exclusively for the Property Investor/Home Buyer. We have no alliances with any real estate agencies, selling agents or property developers and we fight for our buyers! There’s a clear distinction between our services and those of selling agents. We don’t sell property, have no ‘stock lists’ and as exclusive buyer’s agent, we only act for the buyer not the seller.
  2. We give our clients choice and by doing independent research and providing professional guidance, we empower our clients to make the right choice and purchase their ideal property at the right price. You don’t have to rich and famous to use our services. We will save you money, time and stress, whatever your budget.

  3. We save our clients heartache. No more the need to try to figure out if my friends ‘advice’ at the BBQ to invest in that ‘hot’ area is credible or not! Believe it or not, but 80% of mistakes that’s made in investing in real estate are made at the buying stage.

  4. We are a fee for service organization and any potential commissions, discounts or fees that we could get back for our clients from developers or vendors; we diligently negotiate back for our clients as far as its possible, often resulting in our clients getting much better return in dollars than what they paid us for our professional services in the first place! This saving could often run into the tens of thousands of dollars or much more. We absolutely do not accept any sales commission or incentives from vendors, builders or developers. We are truly independent.

  5. We will not refer our clients to service providers that don’t have their best interest at heart. We have created a safe environment for property buyers with like-minded people all focused not on: ‘What’s in it for me’, but on: ‘What’s in the best interest of my client’.

  6. We carry appropriate and adequate Professional Indemnity insurance for the services we provide and are fully licensed real estate agents.

Why not build your property portfolio on good foundations? Make your next property acquisition an informed one.

For more information please contact:

Louis Fourie 

Managing Director -My Choice Properties Pty Limited

Tel 1300 24 21 12 | Mobile 0488 907 421

louis@mychoiceproperties.com.au

www.mychoiceproperties.com.au

 

The SMSF Coach or Verante Financial Planning do not request or receive any commissions or referral fees from recommending services like Louis’, we just want the best professional advice for our clients.

For more detail on Investing in Property through an SMSF check out our previous articles

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 1: Background

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 2: The Process

Property through super in a SMSF – Part 3: 20 most common mistakes

SMSF Borrowing: What Can I Do With An Investment Property Within The Rules.

Can I borrow to buy a house and land package off the plan in my SMSF?

Keep updated by putting an email address in on the left hand column and pressing the “Sign me up!” button. Happy to take comments in the section below.

Bye for now.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

Using an Anti-Detriment Payment vs. Recontribution Strategy in your SMSF


I have used the anti-detriment payment strategy to improve death benefit payments over the years but they are dwarfed by the number of SMSFs using recontribution strategies.

Anti-Detriment vs. Recontribution

No clear winner

With the implementation of the Simple Super legislation in July 2007, many strategies have been published regarding re-contributing into your superannuation fund with the benefit of avoiding the 17% tax on death benefits to non-dependants. However this may not always be beneficial as paying no tax may result in no anti-detriment payment being received which is an additional / alternative strategy available.

The recontribution strategy involves a member of a superannuation fund, normally after age 60 or if fully retired after age 55, withdrawing a lump-sum, and then recontributing the amount back into the fund as a non-concessional contribution. The result of this process increases a member’s tax free component of their benefit and reduces the taxable portion.

The advantages of this include:

  • Members under age 60 become eligible for an increased tax-free portion on their pension;
  • Non-tax dependent beneficiaries of a deceased member’s account pay no tax on the tax-free portion but 16.5% on the balance.

There are also considerations that must be taken into account before implementing such a strategy, such as:

  • by withdrawing lump sum benefits from super below the age of 60, you will only be able to receive the first $185,000 of your taxable portion at a concessional tax rate;
  • Your ability to recontribute is restricted. For the current financial year, you may contribute up to an annual cap of $180,000. For members under 65, they may contribute up to $540,000 in a financial year by using the “3 year bring forward” rule.

An anti-detriment payment is effectively a refund of contributions tax paid by a member during the accumulation phase. It is an additional payment that may be made to an eligible dependant if a death benefit is taken as a lump sum. The anti-detriment payment is calculated based on the taxable portion of a deceased members balance so a reduction in the taxable component through a recontribution strategy will effectively reduce any anti-detriment payment available. The effect of either strategy can be seen below.

Consider the following example:

 Member with $600,000 in their account all from SG Contributions and Salary Sacrifice i.e. no Tax Free component – 100% Taxable Component. He has a son and daughter who each earn about $90,000 per annum.

 In this case not only has the deceased member’s dependant received an additional $105,882, the relevant Fund will be able to apply $705,880 in deductions against its income going forward. Where, for example, the deceased’s adult son and daughter choose to become members of the SMSF and, on average, the SMSF earns $40,000 a year in investment income, a deduction of this size could shield the Fund from tax (on concessional contributions and investment income) for over 8 years!

Anti-Detriment

Without Anti-Detriment

Tax Free Component Nil Tax Free Component Nil
Lump sum death benefit $600,000 Lump sum death benefit $600,000

Anti-detriment payment

$105,882 Anti-detriment payment Nil
Total death benefit $705,880 Total death benefit $600,000
Tax deductions going forward ($105,882/15%) $705,880 Tax deductions going forward Nil

The following table looks at the effect of implementing a re-contribution strategy on death benefits paid to a non-dependant for tax purposes (such as adult children) and a dependant (spouse) compared to an anti-detriment payment is as follows:

Strategy 1: No Recontribution Strategy (lump sum paid to adult child)

Strategy 2: No Recontribution Strategy (lump sum paid to spouse)

Strategy 3 Full Recontribution Strategy used

  Strategy 1 Strategy 2 Strategy 3
Taxable Component $600,000 $600,000 Nil
Tax-free component Nil Nil $600,000
Anti-detriment payment $105,882 $105,882  
Total benefit (pre-tax) $705,882 $705,882 $600,000
Tax payable by non-dependant $116,471 Nil Nil
Total benefit (after-tax) $589,411 $705,882 $600,000

Generally, the recontribution strategy is worth considering if the benefit is likely to be paid to a non-dependent for tax purposes, such as an adult child unless they will make use of the SMSF for their own future superannuation strategy. This is because the tax savings generally outweigh any potential anti-detriment payment they would otherwise receive.

For a spouse or dependant child, you will usually be better off relying on the anti-detriment provisions – because they pay no tax on death benefits. However this requires prior planning and willingness to pay additional administration costs and taxes on anti-detriment reserve even when you reach pension age.

Where the anti-detriment payment tax deduction causes a tax loss in the fund, the full quantum of the loss may not give a benefit to remaining members. In circumstances where for example the spouse is in pension phase, it is important to recognise that “Exempt Current Pension Income” absorbs carry forward losses (other than carry forward capital losses) before it is available to offset income of the Fund. Also, an anti-detriment reserve can affect the calculation of exempt pension income in the fund. Therefore, the full benefit of the anti-detriment may not be able to be utilized.

An alternative solution for those looking to use an Anti-detriment strategy and with a terminal illness or shorter expected life expectancy is to roll-over the member’s account to a retail or industry superannuation account provider that have a policy of making anti-detriment payments as their set up means they will have more flexibility to fund anti-detriment payments.

Another alternative for those dealing with a death of someone well before retirement age is the use of a Future Service Benefits Deduction so click on the link to read more about that.

If you believe that setting up a recontribution and/or an anti-detriment strategy could be beneficial to your superannuation fund and to the your beneficiaries, then now is the time to plan for this and put in place the appropriate structures and strategies. Contact me at our Windsor or Castle Hill offices or by phone or email if you would like to discuss your options.

Keep updated by putting an email address in on the left hand column and pressing the “Sign me up!” button. Happy to take comments or questions in the section below.

Bye for now.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

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