Tax and legal advice

Death and taxes: What you need to know

HenryWalachowski  70x60What do you do if you and your spouse have a self-managed super fund (SMSF) and want to ensure that your superannuation entitlements get paid to your preferred beneficiary – your spouse or another – if you pass away?

Blogger: Henry Walachowski, partner, Marin Accountants

You should take note of two important areas where the rules have recently got blurry. Recent court decisions have left the status of binding death benefit nominations (BDBN) and pension reversions unclear, although the outcome of the cases provide some useful lessons on making sure these aspects of your SMSF are watertight, should one spouse pass away.

Binding death benefit nominations
In essence, this aspect of a SMSF should be fairly straightforward. Each spouse makes a BDBN to nominate their partner for superannuation payments, should one of them pass away.

However, this can become messy when other family members are involved as trustees or beneficiaries of the SMSF. This can happen particularly in ‘blended family’ situations, where there might be children from an earlier relationship or marriage.

Things get even trickier when the will of the deceased spouse contradicts the existing superannuation arrangements, or goes against the provisions of the BDBN. The deceased’s will does not supersede their superannuation entitlements.

So what can you do to ensure that there is clarity in such situations?

Some suggestions:
•    Make sure that your SMSF trust deed is current and contains appropriate powers regarding the nomination of beneficiaries, particularly in relation to using reversionary pension nominations, BDBNs, Death Benefit Rules or some other provision. If not, make sure you get the trust deed updated

•    Take care to have clear, consistent instructions in all your SMSF provisions and in your and your spouse’s wills, to ensure the directions in all documents are complementary rather than contradictory

•    Understand the rules set down in the SMSF trust deed for beneficiary nominations and make sure that you and your advisors comply with these when finalising the documents

As a last resort, you might want to consider using a Death Benefit Guardian to ensure objectivity after one spouse’s death. The guardian takes over the decision-making from the surviving spouse when they will not be benefiting following the death of their partner. Effectively, with a properly appointed Death Benefit Guardian, death benefits cannot be paid other than in accordance with the terms of the death benefits provisions mentioned previously, without the consent of the Death Benefit Guardian.

Pension reversions
Another area to consider is pension reversions, where one member of a SMSF can direct the fund trustee to continue paying his/her pension to a nominated dependant on their death. This can be done as long as:

•    the trust deed of the fund permits the trustee to accept such instructions
•    the nomination is correctly completed and accepted by the trustee
•    the nominated recipient(s) are permitted under the legislation to receive their entitlement to death benefits in the form of an income stream

The document used by a fund member to nominate a dependant to succeed them in receiving the pension is generally known as an ‘automatic pension reversion nomination’. This enables the pension to be paid to a spouse with very little activity required on the part of the new recipient.

However, recent legislation and case law changes suggest that a reversion might not be necessary in many of these situations. There are many tax implications inherent in a pension reversion – while there are some situations when a pension reversion might be particularly useful as a tax exemption strategy (eg maximising the tax free component of a life insurance pay out), there are many other situations when it should not be considered as a tool to achieve tax savings.

It’s important to remember that timing is critical in completing an automatic reversionary nomination. The safest path to take is that the automatic reversion nomination should be provided to the SMSF trustee at the time of commencement of the pension.

If the beneficiary needs to be changed, the pension should be stopped and recommenced (reset), with a new automatic pension reversionary nomination in place at the (re)start.

It is also absolutely crucial that the trust deed is checked to determine whether it allows the death benefits to be paid in this way, and permits the SMSF trustee to accept the automatic reversion nomination. If the trust deed does not contain those powers, it should be updated.

Bottom line? As with all superannuation issues, it’s best to check with your accountant to see whether your SMSF will stand up to these ‘death and taxes’ issues. If it needs work to pass this test, your accountant will be the best advisor to help in this way.


About Henry Walachowski
HenryWalachowski  340x408

Henry Walachowski is a partner at Marin Accountants, a firm specialising in accounting and business advice for SME businesses and high net worth individuals. You can contact Henry on 03 9645 9229 or by email at [email protected]

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About the Blogger

Christine Xegas

Christine Xegas

Christine Xegas is a Project Manager at Plan Assist Property Team, working with renowned property investor, Harry Charalambous. Plan Assist is one of Australia’s leading resources for property services, providing property investors with an end-to-end property investment service and incorporating Finance, Property Mentoring & Membership, Buyer’s Agency, Project Management and Construction services.

Christine orchestrates all aspects of our investor’s developments and has a strong commitment to achieving completion, within budget and on time. We take you through the different stages and processes which can include, site acquisition, development application, construction certificate, tender and contract signing, construction administration and management.

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podcast

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Will Magee has had ambitions to enter into the Australian property market for quite some time, but it has been more than just finances holding him back.  Having been granted permanent residency just two weeks ago, Will is wasting no time and is now in the process of signing papers and finding his first investment property.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Will joins host Phil Tarrant to share why he is purchasing his first property in partnership with his brother, discuss the complications that can arise from such a strategy, and unpack the ongoing plan for building a joint property portfolio with his brother.

Will will also share how they approached saving for their first property, why he is taking out the mortgage in his name exclusively, and share their savings plan for the year ahead.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

RELATED AREAS OF INTEREST:

From property in Australia to a ski lodge in Japan
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A property investment plan years in the making
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Median house prices in regional Victoria outperformed that of Melbourne in the June quarter, the latest REIV figures reveal. 

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Median house prices in the regions rose 4.0 per cent to $419,500 but in Melbourne they dipped by 0.6 of a percentage point to $840,000.

The result in Melbourne was due to a 0.8 of a percentage point fall in prices achieved at auction; this was despite a lift of 2.3 per cent in private sales.

Inner Melbourne suffered due to auction prices, where median prices fell by 4.9 per cent to $1,459,000 but it was middle Melbourne that was hardest hit, with a 5.4 per cent drop to $974,500.

Outer Melbourne had a good quarter with the median rising by 0.5 of a percentage point to $681,000.

Apartment prices in regional Victoria grew by 3.7 per cent to $304,500 while the metro media was up by 0.5 of a percentage point to $604,000.

REIV President Richard Simpson said that despite fewer sales, many sectors of the market were performing well.

“2017 was a bumper year and while the trendline has flattened, despite the fall in median house prices in the June quarter, median prices are still up this calendar year for both houses and units, in Melbourne and in the regions,” Mr Simpson said. 

In particular there was been strong growth in regional centres which is probably due to the first-home buyers’ concessions said Mr Simpsons.

“The first-home buyers’ concession has been a boon for regional areas. A new entrant to the property market buying a house at the regional median will pay no stamp duty, while a first home buyer of an apartment in Melbourne at the median price would pay stamp duty of nearly $25,000,” he said.

Mr Simpson said that more prospective buyers are looking towards regional Victoria which is also having an effect in Melbourne.

“Melbourne’s outer perimeter continues to grow. Small increases in the June quarter mean that the median prices for both houses and units have risen over 10.5 per cent from a year ago.

Mr Simpson said moving forward that vendors need more realistic expectations as the highs of 2017 are now over.

“Negative chatter about the future of the sector coupled with stronger lending controls by financial institutions has created some uncertainty and vendors need to be realistic with their price expectations,” Mr Simpson said.

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Regional Victoria showing up Melbourne in price performance, new data finds
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  ["title"]=>
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  string(381) "

If Mark Hodge’s face looks familiar to you it could be because of his time working as a professional entertainer which saw him working with the Australian ballet, appearing on multiple seasons of Dancing with the Stars and touring in musical theatre for 17 years. What you may not know is that Mark is also heavily involved in the short-term property rental marketspace.

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Mark joins host Phil Tarrant to discuss his transition from entertainer to investor, a journey pushed forward by dance related injuries and even a hit and run which saw him needing to find alternate methods to bring in an income. Mark shares how bad long-term tenants and a gang member guided him to the short-term rental market, and how this pushed him into helping others to realise the same benefits.

Mark will also address the common concerns, discuss what his company Maisonnets specialise in and unpack how they are making the process of filling short term rentals easier for investors.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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AREAS MENTIONED:

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Maroubra
Potts Point

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From pirouettes to property investment

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