Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Cloudbusting** - Incapacity and invalid wills – a 101 reminder

View Legal Blog Cloudbusting - Incapacity and invalid wills – a 101 reminder

Last week, we had to look at a relatively interesting question concerning a series of wills that had been made by someone who died recently.

Due to evidence on the death certificate, the validity of the most recently will has been called into question because of a lack of capacity (namely, long term dementia).

There are a number of things that may happen from here, however in very broad terms, if the most recent will is held to be invalid, then the will made immediately before the most recent will is the one likely to be submitted to probate.

If that immediately preceding will is also shown to be invalid because of a lack of capacity, then the court is required to keep going back through previously made wills until they find one that does not fail on the basis of the incapacity issues.

The above approach assumes of course that the previous wills can be accessed, and the court can ultimately satisfy itself that a valid will was made at a time when capacity was not in doubt.

If the court is unable to satisfy itself, the default position is that the intestacy rules apply.

** for the trainspotters, the title here is riffed from the Kate Bush song ‘Cloudbusting

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Blues Brothers** Trust case

Today’s post considers the above-mentioned topic in a ‘vidcast’.

As usual, an edited transcript of the presentation for those that cannot (or choose not) to view it is below.

One of the most interesting family law trust cases is what I refer to as The Blues Brothers case, otherwise known as Morton and Morton.

In this case, there were two brothers, the Blues Brothers as I call them.

They were both shareholders of the corporate trustee. They were both directors of the corporate trustee. They were the two primary beneficiaries and joint appointors of the trust. The trust itself owned the bucket company 100%. The bucket company’s two directors were the two brothers. You’re likely starting to see the pattern.

Brother one busts up with his wife. His wife says, “He is the 50% owner - all day every day he is 50%. Therefore, I get half of his 50% end of story.”

The court said, “No, he’s not 50%. Because he has no casting vote, because he is an equal appointor, equal shareholder, equal director, he’s received broadly equal distributions, he’s not 50%. He is a 0%.” Therefore, the assets of the trust were protected.

Some will argue here, “Hang on Matthew, that’s quite unique, we’re not always going to be able to set up with 2 siblings.” Agreed and understood. But if you’re looking at wider succession of a family unit and protection of intergenerational wealth, we believe the principles from The Blues Brothers case are seriously important to have in mind.

As always thanks to the Television Education Network for the video content here.

** for the trainspotters, a classic song from the Blues Brother today, ‘Gimme some lovin’.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Over (it)** insurance and buy sell arrangements

View Legal Blog Over (it)** insurance and buy sell arrangements

There were a number of enquiries following last week’s post, and in summary, the answer to a number of these queries was that before implementing the kind of strategy explored, care should always be taken to make sure that all of the commercial, legal and transaction cost issues are properly considered.

One question that is also worth exploring further is the appropriate quantum of insurance cover in this type of situations.

Obviously, while we do an extensive amount of work in this area, we do not actually provide insurance product solutions, and instead work with specialists in this area to help clients get appropriate strategies implemented.

The advice that we often give however is that for a variety of reasons, we prefer that wherever possible the parties involved look to maximise the level of insurance cover able to be obtained.

Obviously, this approach is subject to specialist advice in these circumstances and the ability for the clients to commercially justify the insurance premium, however some of the practical advantages with this approach that we see include:
  1. It reduces the need to uplift the quantum of insurance cover as circumstances change.
  2. It reduces the risk that in the future appropriate levels of cover may not be able to be accessed (due to health reasons).
  3. It guards against the risk that the underlying assets involved increases more rapidly than insurance protection is able to be updated.
  4. If structured appropriately, the excess insurance can also be used to facilitate other non-business succession objectives.
** for the trainspotters, the title here is riffed from the Dinosaur Jnr song ‘Over it’.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Why contracts beat (it) ** wills

During the week, in the context of reviewing a buy-sell deed, we had to provide advice about whether the terms of the buy-sell deed would overrule the provisions of one of the partner’s wills.

While there were a number of factors that may potentially impact on the answer to this question, in very simple terms, contractual arrangements will always override the provisions of a will.

As the buy-sell deed was crafted on the basis of option agreements, then the position was therefore that they would override any inconsistent provision of the will.

In the context of the buy-sell arrangement here, there were two individual partners who had implemented buy-sell arrangements.

For a combination of reasons (not least of which the ability to eliminate any stamp duty or tax on the transfer of the partnership interest on death), the parties agreed to implement wills whereby they would each gift their respective partnership interest to their co-partner on death.

The agreement to make these gifts however was predicated on the assumption that the exiting partner’s estate would receive insurance proceeds at least equal to (if not greater than) the market value of their partnership interests.

Option agreements were still put in place however to cover the partners against a range of risks, including:
  1.  a partner changing their will;
  2. the will of an exiting partner being challenged; and
  3. the insurance proceeds received being inadequate as compared to the market value at the date of death.
** for the trainspotters, the title here is riffed from the Michael Jackson song ‘Beat it’.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Happy New Year’s Day**! & some further reasons for the rise and rise of share sales

Happy New Year’s Day**! & some further reasons for the rise and rise of share sales

Last week’s post considered some key aspects impact of the introduction of the 50% general discount on business succession.

A further significant related transaction cost issue that has also changed over the last few years to further encourage purchasers to consider a share acquisition relates to the tax consolidation rules.

In particular, it was historically the case that in order for a purchaser to be able to claim depreciation in relation to the market value of the assets they had acquired, they needed to physically acquire those assets.

In contrast, if the shares in the relevant company were acquired, then there was no adjustment to the tax carrying costs of its assets.

In very broad terms, if a purchaser acquires shares in another company and that company becomes a member of the purchaser’s tax consolidated corporate group, then it is permitted to 'reset' the tax carrying costs of all assets of the company.

Although there can be a number of problems that arise with this resetting, in very general terms, the intention of ensuring that the tax outcome for a purchaser on a share sale as compared to an asset sale in what is otherwise an identical transaction are normally broadly achieved.

One last permutation worth remembering relates to where a purchaser is open to consider a share sale arrangement but wants to ensure that any historical difficulties with the company currently operating the business are quarantined to the maximum extent possible.

In these circumstances, it is often sensible for the vendor to suggest that a restructure be done before completion (often the finalisation of the restructure will be a settlement day condition precedent) whereby the assets of the existing company are 'rolled over' into a cleanskin company.

Obviously, there are a number of commercial, tax and stamp duty issues that need to be considered with this approach, however in many instances, it can deliver the precise outcome that each of the parties are aiming for.

** for the trainspotters, the title here is riffed from the U2 song ‘New Year’s Day’.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Keeping it real** on 30 June – the rise and rise of share sales

View Legal blogpost 'Keeping it real** on 30 June – the rise and rise of share sales ' by Matthew Burgess

Given that it is 30 June, it seemed like an appropriate day to focus on the impact of the introduction of the 50% general discount on business succession.

Since its introduction (and certainly with the various evolutions of the small business capital gains tax concessions), we have seen an ever-increasing number of merger and acquisition transactions take place by way of share sale.

Historically, many (if not all) of these transactions would have taken place by way of asset sale.

Due to the difficulties with accessing the various tax concessions when assets are sold by a company, the attractiveness of a share sale has become significant.

The additional issue in this regard can often be that the share sale will legitimately avoid any stamp duty consequence, which is still in some states not the case in relation to a business sale.

One of the key ramifications of the increased number of share sales is that many vendors will actively embark on a 'vendor due diligence' exercise.

Broadly, this involves, sometimes many months before any sale transaction is entered into, the vendor prepares a complete set of due diligence material from its own perspective.

Such an approach can help to significantly reduce the overall costs and risks that might otherwise be associated with a share sale transaction.

Next week’s post will further explore two other key aspects to consider in relation to share sale arrangements.

** for the trainspotters, the title here is keeping it very real by being riffed from a line in the Hannah Montana song ‘Let’s get crazy’.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Have I lost you?** - Lost company constitutions

View Legal blogpost 'Have I lost you?** - Lost company constitutions ' by Matthew Burgess

Previous posts have considered the key issues in relation to lost trust deeds (let me know if you want access to any of these). A related issue that comes up regularly is the loss of other essential documents, and in particular, the constitutions for companies.

In most instances, the ramifications of losing a constitution for a company (or as they were formally known the 'memorandum and articles') are normally not as problematic as with the case with discretionary trust deeds.

This said, we would always normally recommend that, if possible, at least a copy of the constitution be located, and particularly for older companies, this can often be achieved via the microfiche records retained by the ASIC.

As many advisers will be aware, up until around the 1990s, all company constitutions had to be lodged with the ASIC on registration of a company.

Where no copy can be found, there is also a process available to adopt a replacement constitution, however some difficulties (particularly from a tax perspective) can arise in this regard if there is uncertainty as to the rights attaching to the shares on issue in the company.

** for the trainspotters, the title here is riffed from the Supremes song ‘Have I lost you’.