Probate

Why your SMSF should have a corporate trustee

The Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Cth) (SIS Act) has strict rules as to who must act as a trustee of a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF), but basically this means:

  • if you are individual trustees of a SMSF, all members must be trustees of the SMSF
  • If you have a corporate trustee of a SMSF, then all members must be directors of it.

The SIS Act also provides that those trusteeship rules will continue to be satisfied if a member’s attorney (under an enduring power of attorney) is appointed as trustee/director in place of the member. This can also assist if you will be overseas and unable to tend to the management of the SMSF for a prolonged period.

Where there is no enduring power of attorney, the member may need to be rolled out of the SMSF or an administrator may need to be appointed by the Court. One consequence of breaking these trusteeship rules can be the ATO removing the SMSF’s complying status and triggering tax at the top marginal tax rate.

There are several important reasons as to why your SMSF should have a corporate trustee. So how can having a company as trustee be of benefit?

Individual trustee dies or becomes incapacitated

When a member who is a SMSF trustee becomes incapacitated or dies, the trustee/s will need to change.

On the death or incapacity of a member, typically the deceased/incapacitated trustee will be removed and replaced with their ‘legal personal representative’ (LPR). An example of an LPR is an attorney appointed an enduring power of attorney or executor under a Will.

Another complication is that when a member/individual trustee dies and their death benefit commences to be paid from the SMSF, the trustee/s will need to change again (as the LPR cannot continue to act in place of the deceased member).

Every change of trustee will need to be reflected on all assets of the SMSF (including updating the title to any real property), causing delay and expense to the SMSF and family, at a time when the family would rather be focused on assisting the debilitated member of grieving their death.

Death or incapacity of a director of a corporate trustee

Where there is only one member remaining in the SMSF (due to death or rollout of a member), the remaining member will not have to find a second person to act as co-director of the trustee (single member SMSFs are required to have 2 trustees if the trustees are individuals). Title to the SMSF assets does not need to be changed, although ASIC’s register will.

Reduced ASIC fees

The expense of registering and maintaining a company is the most common deterrent to SMSFs using a corporate trustee however, unlike being a trustee of a family, discretionary or unit trust, where a company only acts as trustee of a SMSF, it is a ‘special purpose company’ (meaning it will receive the benefit of reduced ASIC annual return fees.

Other benefits

Having a company act as trustee can also offer some litigation exposure protection and may assist with borrowing under a Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement as some lenders require it

Overall, having a corporate trustee can be a more efficient, cost-effective and administratively simpler option for your SMSF and can be an integral part of your overall estate plan.

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information on estate planning, corporate, superannuation or succession issues, please contact McKillop Legal on (02) 9521 2455 or email help@mckilloplegal.com.au 

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your needs.

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Abolition of Certificates of Title

From 11 October 2021, changes to the land titles system in NSW will apply as part of the transition away from paper-based processes.

The Real Property Amendment (Certificates of Title) Act 2021 makes 2 significant changes with effect from that date:

  1. the cancellation of Certificates of Title (CT) for real property and the control of the right to deal (CoRD) framework – the CoRD being the electronic equivalent of a CT; and
  2. all land dealings must be lodged electronically – referred to as ‘100% eConveyancing’.

Accordingly, on 11 October 2021, all existing CTs will be cancelled and new CTs will no longer be issued. From then on, existing CTs cannot be required to be produced to have a dealing or plan lodged for registration at NSW Land Registry Services (NSWLRS, formerly NSW Land & Property Information and the Land Titles Office).

What does this mean for you?

There are 3 main changes from the current practice for landowners:

  1. those who pay off their mortgage will not receive a CT as was traditionally the case.
  2. a purchaser of property without the need for a mortgage will not receive a CT.
  3. when a plan of subdivision is registered, and new parcels of land created, CTs (or CoRDs) will no longer be issued for those parcels.

In all instances, an “Information Notice” will issue, which will confirm the dealings registered and date of registration.

Abolition of Certificates of Title 

Landowners of unencumbered land (that is with no mortgage) who have a CT don’t have to do anything either before or after 11 October 2021. After this date however, the CT will no longer be a legal document (and thus will have no legal effect), although you may like to keep it for sentimental reasons (although the current CTs aren’t anywhere near as impressive looking as the old system ones).

Note that just because you have paid of your mortgage, it may still be registered no title – it must be formally discharged. If you want the CT, you ought to act quickly to have it discharged and the new CT issued prior to 11 October 2021 as you will not get one after that date.

Those who own unencumbered land, but have someone else holding or storing their CT, may wish to request to have it back. From 11 October 2021 there will no longer be a remedy under the Real Property Act 1900 to get a CT back from others, given it has no legal effect.

Lenders holding CTs

If you hold a CT in as informal security for an unregistered mortgage or charge over a property following an advance of money or provision of goods or services, you should take steps to protect your interests before 11 October 2021 as when CTs are cancelled, this method of securing payment will no longer be available or effective.

From 11 October 2021 lawyers and licensed conveyancers no longer need to ask for a copy of their CT when acting on a sale or when lodging a dealing for registration.

100% eConveyancing

The Registrar General has declared under the NSW Conveyancing Rules that all electronic dealings listed in the Schedule of eDealings are mandated to be lodged electronically.

All land dealings to be lodged with NSWLRS can only be done electronically by a subscriber (e.g. a lawyer, licensed conveyancer or bank) to an Electronic Lodgment Network.

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information, please contact McKillop Legal on (02) 9521 2455 or email help@mckilloplegal.com.au 

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your needs.

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Family provision orders

Under the Succession Act 2006 (NSW), eligible persons may apply to the Supreme Court of New South Wales for a family provision order in relation to the estate or notional* estate of a deceased person to provide “for their maintenance, education or advancement in life”.

The first hurdle to overcome is being an “eligible person” and the second is whether the provision (if any) made for the applicant in the deceased’s Will** is adequate, and if not, what “family provision order” could be made to make it adequate. Unfortunately, this process is not as simple as we have explained it.

Limitation period

Claims for provision must be made within 12 months of the date of death of the deceased person (although in limited circumstanced, this time limit can be extended).

Process

After proceedings are commenced and the parties have put on the majority of their evidence, applications for family provision orders are generally referred to either a Court annexed mediation or to private mediation but if no agreement can be reached, the matter will be set down for hearing.

Eligibility

Those who are “eligible” to make a claim for a family provision order out of a deceased person’s estate include:

  • a spouse of the deceased at the time of the deceased’s death;
  • a former spouse of the deceased;
  • a person in a de facto relationship with the deceased at the time of death
  • children (including adopted children) of the deceased;
  • someone with whom the deceased was in a close personal relationship*** with at the time of their death;
  • those who have, at any time, been wholly or partly dependent upon the deceased and who either:
    • are a grandchild of the deceased; or
    • were, at any time, member of a household of which the deceased a member.

How do you know if you are to receive an inheritance?

Click here to read about how to get a copy of a deceased person’s will.

Adequacy

The Court won’t simply rewrite a deceased person’s Will based on claims of justice or unfairness such as unequally dividing an estate between siblings. The Court has a wide discretion in determining these matters and the nature of any order for provision that may be made.

The Court first considers if the gift (if any) was adequate and if not, what provision may be adequate.

The Court exercises is discretion to make an order and if so, on what terms, after considering the following factors:

  1. any family or other relationship between the applicant and the deceased, including the nature and duration of the relationship,
  2. the nature and extent of any obligations or responsibilities owed by the deceased to the applicant, to any other person in respect of whom an application has been made for a family provision order or to any beneficiary of the deceased’s estate,
  3. the nature and extent of the deceased’s estate (including any property that is, or could be, designated as notional estate* of the deceased person) and of any liabilities or charges to which the estate is subject, as in existence when the application is being considered,
  4. the financial resources (including earning capacity) and financial needs, both present and future, of the applicant, of any other person in respect of whom an application has been made for a family provision order or of any beneficiary of the deceased person’s estate (that is the competing needs/claims of others),
  5. if the applicant is cohabiting with another person–the financial circumstances of the other person,
  6. any physical, intellectual or mental disability of the applicant, any other person in respect of whom an application has been made for a family provision order or any beneficiary of the deceased’s estate that is in existence when the application is being considered or that may reasonably be anticipated,
  7. the age of the applicant when the application is being considered,
  8. any contribution (whether financial or otherwise) by the applicant to the acquisition, conservation and improvement of the estate of the deceased person or to the welfare of the deceased or the deceased’s family, whether made before or after the deceased’s death, for which adequate consideration (not including any pension or other benefit) was not received, by the applicant,
  9. any provision made for the applicant by the deceased, either during the deceased’s life or made from the deceased’s estate,
  10. any evidence of the testamentary intentions of the deceased, including evidence of statements made by the deceased,
  11. whether the applicant was being maintained, either wholly or partly, by the deceased before the deceased’s death and, if the Court considers it relevant, the extent to which and the basis on which the deceased did so,
  12. whether any other person is liable to support the applicant,
  13. the character and conduct of the applicant before and after the date of the deceased’s death,
  14. the conduct of any other person before and after the date of the deceased’s death,
  15. any relevant Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander customary law,
  16. any other matter the Court considers relevant, including matters in existence at the time of the deceased’s death or at the time the application is being considered.

*Where assets that were previously assets of the deceased prior to death (such as assets gifted or transferred by the deceased to another person or entity prior to death to attempt to avoid an application for an order for provision, superannuation, property owned as joint tenants between the deceased and another person), be considered as an asset of the estate for the purposes of an application for a family provision order.

**Note that even in intestacy (where there is no Will), an application can be made for a family provision order.

*** A “close personal relationship” is a relationship other than a marriage or a de facto relationship between two adult persons, whether or not related by family, who are living together, one or each of whom provides the other with domestic support and personal care but not for reward or on behalf of another person or organization.

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information in relation to Wills, Probate, Intestacy, Estate Planning or even International Wills, please contact McKillop Legal on (02) 9521 2455 or email help@mckilloplegal.com.au 

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your needs.

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Does marriage, separation or divorce affect my Will?

This blogpost is limited to New South Wales as the laws in each State and Territory differ in relation to these matters.

Marriage

If you get married after you sign a Will, the Will is revoked unless it is specifically stated to have been made in contemplation of that particular marriage taking place.

Marriage will not affect a gift to the person who is your spouse at your date of death or their appointment as your executor.

Entering into a defacto relationship does not have the same impact on a Will as a marriage, but this can give rise to other rights as regards the property of the relationship whilst the parties are alive (and claims in relation to the division of the estate on their deaths).

Divorce

Subject to the contrary intention being expressed in a Will, if you divorce after you make your Will, it only revokes or cancels any gift to a former spouse and their appointment as executor.

It will not however cancel their appointment as trustee of property left on trust for beneficiaries that include children of both you and your former spouse.

Separation

If you don’t update your Will after you separate, your spouse may inherit any property you left to them and they can still be the executor of your estate if named as such in theWill.

The take away

If any time your circumstances change (such as a birth or death in the family, a marriage, separation or divorce or a material change in finances for the better or the worse) you should consider whether your estate planning documents require any updates. It may be that no change is necessary, but it at least should be considered.

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information in relation to Wills and estate planning, contact McKillop Legal on (02) 9521 2455 or email help@mckilloplegal.com.au 

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your needs.

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Am I entitled to a copy of a Will?

At a very emotional time, often there is confusion as to what rights and obligations exist in relation to obtaining a copy of someone’s Will.

Many clients ask us “Am I entitled to a copy of a Will?” or “Do I really need to give them a copy of the Will?

It should go without saying that no-one is entitled to see the Will of a person who is still alive! After death however, the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) provides that any person who has possession or control of a Will of a deceased person must allow any one or more of the following persons to inspect or to be given copies of the will (at their own expense):

“(a) any person named or referred to in the Will, whether as a beneficiary or not,
(b) any person named or referred to in an earlier Will as a beneficiary of the deceased person,
(c) the surviving spouse, de facto partner or issue of the deceased person,
(d) a parent or guardian of the deceased person,
(e) any person who would be entitled to a share of the estate of the deceased person if the deceased person had died intestate,
(f) any parent or guardian of a minor referred to in the Will or who would be entitled to a share of the estate of the testator if the testator had died intestate,
(g) any person (including a creditor) who has or may have a claim at law or in equity against the estate of the deceased person,
(h) any person committed with the management of the deceased person’s estate under the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009 immediately before the death of the deceased person,
(i) any attorney under an enduring power of attorney made by the deceased person,
(j) any person belonging to a class of persons prescribed by the Regulations.”

As you can see:

  • there are a number of persons that have a right to a inspect or to be given a copy of the Will; and
  • the executor or person with possession or control of a Will (which could include a lawyer or firm that holds it in safe custody) have an obligation to provide a copy on request.

Of course, there needs to be proof provided that the person who made the Will has in fact died – ie, provide the death certificate (which usually happens via the executor or next of kin).

The purpose of this access to the Will is partly to allow an persons with a claim on a deceased estate to know if they have been provided for in the Will, that it is the deceased person’s latest Will and who the executor is.

There is sometimes also confusion as to the effect of clauses in Wills that provide for the appointment of a particular person or firm as the estate’s lawyers for the purposes of obtaining probate. The executor is free to choose whichever lawyer or firm they wish to act for them in obtaining probate and assisting with the administration of a deceased estate.

The Probate and Administration Act 1898 provides that the Will of the deceased, once admitted to probate, is a public document and that anybody is entitled to apply for a copy of it from the Supreme Court of New South Wales  (and paying the relevant fee) however, it is generally best to contact the person in possession of the document for a copy, before approaching the Supreme Court.

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information in relation to Wills, Probate, estate planning or even International Wills, please contact McKillop Legal on (02) 9521 2455 or email help@mckilloplegal.com.au 

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your needs.

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Coronavirus: Remote witnessing of legal documents

On 22 April 2020, the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 (NSW) came into effect.

The effect of the Regulation is that the signing of legal documents in New South Wales such as Wills, Powers of Attorney, Deeds, Agreements, Appointments of Enduring Guardians, Affidavits and Statutory Declarations can be witnessed by audio visual link, rather than having to be physically present, as is normally the case – that is the law (during the COVID-19 pandemic) now allows the remote witnessing of legal documents.

Some documents have other additional requirements, like Wills which require 2 witnesses, not just one, as is provided for in s.6(1)(c) of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW).

Audio visual link includes Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype, HouseParty, FaceTime and the like.

The witness must sign the document either:

  1. by signing a counterpart of the document as soon as practicable after witnessing the signing of the document; or
  2. if the signatory scans and sends a copy of the signed document electronically, the witness may countersign the document as soon as practicable after witnessing the signing of the document.

The witness must endorse the document, or the copy of the document, with a statement that specifies the method used to witness the signing and that the document was witnessed in accordance with the Electronic Transactions Regulation 2017.

All copies of the document should be stored together so they can be read as the one document.

The Regulations do not change what documents may or may not be executed electronically in NSW – only how documents may be witnessed and attested.  The Regulations also do not affect the laws or requirements of any other jurisdiction, including the Commonwealth (such as company execution of documents under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

Under the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 (NSW), the Regulation were to operate for a maximum period of 6 months from 22 April 2020 however, on 18 September 2020, the Stronger Communities Legislation Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 came into effect such that, among other things, the operation of the electronic witnessing regulations was extended to 31 December 2021.

Similar regulations are in place in the other States and Territories, such as Queensland’s Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response – Wills and Enduring Documents) Regulation 2020 (Qld).

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information in relation to legal issues arising from Coronavirus, if you had previously held off arranging documents such as for your estate planning due to not wanting to attend our office physically due to social distancing concerns or if you need to discuss how to best to arrange signing of documents under the Regulation, please contact us on (02) 9521 2455 or email help@mckilloplegal.com.au.

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice.

Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your legal concerns or objectives.

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COVID-19: McKillop Legal remains open for business

McKillop Legal remains open for business and is fully operational despite the significant and unprecedented challenges facing our families, the Australian economy and our way of life as a result of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

We remain open for business and available to provide advice either by telephone, email or other services (and, if necessary, in person, abiding by the Government’s social distancing guidelines).

Our staff all have the ability to work remotely from home or in other places using our secure technology infrastructure and systems.

If you or your business has any legal issue it requires assistance with, whether relating to your rights or responsibilities relating to business, shutdowns or employment in relation to the pandemic or in relation to other matters, please call or email us and we will be in touch promptly.

Take care.

No Will – dying intestate

If you were to pass away without leaving a Will, then your estate will not necessarily pass to the people that you may wish to benefit.

Dying without a Will in place is called dying “intestate” and the ultimate beneficiaries of your estate will miss out on important and valuable benefits that could have been provided had you put in place a Will such as asset protection and tax minimisation opportunities like those in Testamentary Trusts.

Making an application to the Supreme Court to deal with the estate of a person who dies intestate is similar to seeking a grant of Probate but it is called applying for “Letters of Administration”. If a Will is left but fails to appoint an executor, it is “Letters of Administration with the Will Annexed” but at least then the Will would explain who you want to benefit following your death.

In addition to the Summons, Inventory of property and Affidavit of Administrator, things that need to be provided to the Court include: proof of enquiry into the existence and whereabouts of any Will; the identity of the deceased’s eligible relatives (death, birth and marriage certificates); proof of notification of the application to interested persons; an affidavit regarding the relationship status of the deceased; and possibly provision of an administration bond.

The reason for this evidence of a spouse/domestic partner is that the law provides for a formula as to how an intestate estate is to be divided and a lot depends on the marital relationship of the deceased.

Chapter 4 (sections 101-140) of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) provide that the statutory order of inheritance in relation to an intestacy is:

RELATIVES LEFT

​ENTITLEMENT

A spouse and no children

The spouse is entitled to the whole of the estate.

A spouse and child(ren) from that relationship

The spouse is entitled to the whole of the estate.

A spouse and child(ren) from a that (or a previous) relations​​hip

The spouse is entitled to receive:

  • the personal effects of the deceased;
  • a statutory legacy of $350 000;* and
  • half of the residue of the estate.

The spouse also has a ‘right to elect’ to acquire property from the estate.

All of the deceased’s children, including children^ from previous relationships and from the current spouse (whether they are from a previous relationship or from the spouse) are entitled to equal shares of the other half of the residue.

Multiple spouses

The spouses are entitled to equal shares of the estate (unless varied by Order or agreement between them). There may be more than one spouse if the deceased was married and had one or more domestic relationships/de facto spouses. Children get nothing in this case.

Children only (no spouse)

The children are entitled to equal shares of the estate. If a child of the deceased has already died leaving children (ie, the deceased’s grandchildren), the grandchildren are entitled to their parent’s share in equal shares.

No spouse or children

The deceased’s parents are entitled to equal shares of the estate.

No spouse, children or parents

The deceased’s full and half blood brothers and sisters are entitled to equal shares of the estate.

No spouse, children, parents, brothers or sisters

The deceased’s grandparents are entitled to equal shares of the estate.

No spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters or grandparents

The deceased’s full and half blood aunts and uncles are entitled to equal shares of the estate.

No spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts or uncles

The deceased’s first cousins are entitled to equal shares of the estate.

No spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins

The State government is entitled to the whole of the estate.

* Adjusted by CPI. If this amount is not paid within 1 year from the date of death, the spouse is also entitled to receive interest on this amount.

^ Children who are not legally the children of the deceased (eg, step children) are not included. Adoptive children are included.

Special rules also apply in relation to indigenous persons.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Craig Pryor is principal solicitor at McKillop Legal. For further information in relation to probate, letters of administration, estate planning or business succession, contact Craig Pryor on (02) 9521 2455 or email craig@mckilloplegal.com.au.

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice.

Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your needs. Stay up to date – LinkedIn Facebook Twitter

Power of appointment

You may have a family trust or a discretionary trust that your accountant prepared for you.

Perhaps you are the trustee or that trust, or one of several trustees such as your spouse or partner or perhaps you are a director of a company that is the trustee.

There are a number of terms used in trust deeds that are not commonly understood, such as the “settlor”,vesting date” or the “excluded class”.

One of the things that is often:

  • not properly considered at the time of establishing the trust; and /or
  • overlooked at the time estate planning documents are being drafted

is the “power of appointment”.

The power of appointment is a power granted to the “appointor” named in the trust deed to decide who should be the trustee of the trust.

This power of appointment is the most important power in a trust deed as it generally affords the appointor the power to remove and replace the trustee as the appointor thinks fit (subject of course to any provisions of the trust deed).

Often the trust deed will provide for how that power is to be transferred, such as on the death of the appointor, and allows the appointor to give that power in their Will.

If you have a trust deed and you either:

  • don’t know who holds the power of appointment;
  • want to amend the trust deed to change who holds that power of appointment or
  • want to ensure that the power is appropriately transferred on your death

then speak to your lawyer about this without delay.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Craig Pryor is principal solicitor at McKillop Legal. For further information in relation to trusts, estate planning, business succession or any other commercial law matter, contact Craig Pryor on (02) 9521 2455 or email craig@mckilloplegal.com.au.

Contract to Make Mutual Wills

A Contract to make Mutual Wills is an agreement between 2 parties (usually a husband and wife, but can be a same sex couple or a de facto couple) to make Wills in an agreed form.

Usually, they provide that the parties may not act such that those Wills don’t get given effect to, such as:

  • revoking or destroying the Will;
  • making a new Will; or
  • disposing of assets so that they do not pass to the agreed beneficiaries

without the consent of the other party (or the executors/administrators of their estate  if they have died).

Often they are put in place when the parties have had a prior marriage or marriages and there are children of the prior relationship/s and the current relationship.

The benefit of such contracts (or deeds as they often are) is that the parties can take some comfort in providing for the other during their lifetimes (for example by gifting their entire estates to each other in their Wills), but with the overall distribution of their combined estates (on the death of the last of them) passing as agreed in the Wills made pursuant to the document.

Where a party breaches the agreement (such as by changing their Will), that party (or their estate) may be sued by the other party (or their executors/administrators if they have died) for breach of contract.

Whilst mutual Wills can be an effective estate planning tool, they are not for everyone and they can cause unintended complications due to their inflexibility, particularly around subsequent marriages, children and unexpected events following the death of a party.

As with most things, there are also other options or alternatives to consider to get a similar result, including creating life interests in real estate or establishing trusts.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Craig Pryor is principal solicitor at McKillop Legal. For further information in relation to estate planning, business succession or any other commercial law matter, contact Craig Pryor on (02) 9521 2455 or email craig@mckilloplegal.com.au.

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your estate planning needs.

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