Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trust distributions 101

Last week’s post touched on the Family Court decision from the end of 2011 concerning the way in which a family trust was treated as part of a matrimonial settlement.

One other aspect of the case that is worth mentioning involved the conclusion by the Court about the, purported, use of a corporate beneficiary.

In particular a ‘bucket company’ was set up some years after the initial establishment of the trust. The evidence that seemed to be accepted by the Court was that the company was established for ‘tax minimisation or reduction purposes’.

Unfortunately, to the extent that a disgruntled third party (including the Tax Office) may wish to challenge the distributions, the company was not in fact a beneficiary of the trust.

While the ‘wrongful’ distributions (in the words of the Court) were not explored further in the context of this family law case, the comments highlight the theme of many earlier posts – that is in almost every area where structures are used (whether they be trusts, companies or super funds) it is critical that someone takes responsibility for reading the establishment documents before any step is taken.

Until next week.