Tuesday, November 27, 2018

NSW implications for all changes of trustee

With thanks to the Television Education Network, today’s post considers the above mentioned topic in a vidcast.

As usual, an edited transcript of the presentation is below:

There is a specific provision of the New South Wales Duties Act which requires that, in order to qualify for the stamp duty exemption where a change of trustee is occurring, the new trustee needs to be excluded as a beneficiary of the trust.

This means the trust deed needs to contain an express provision excluding any new trustee from being a beneficiary.

Advisers practicing in New South Wales are usually acutely aware of that limitation being in most of their trust deeds and of the resulting need to look at who may have been a previous trustee to see whether any beneficiaries are excluded.

The issue comes up quite commonly because several of the popular online trust deed providers use trust deeds from Sydney law firms, meaning that even though the trust deed might be ordered online by an accountant in Western Australia or a lawyer in South Australia, if the deed provider is based in New South Wales, the deed they’re providing probably contains this exclusion without the adviser being aware of it.

There are two reasons we need to know whether the deed contains the exclusion.

Firstly, if we are changing the trustee and we appoint a new trustee who is a beneficiary of the trust, then that change of trustee may be invalid or it may trigger unintended tax or stamp duty consequences.

Secondly, we may have individuals who were previously a trustee of the trust and who at face value appear to be a beneficiaries, but who were actually excluded as a result of the clause.

For instance, if Mum and Dad were individual trustees but they subsequently retired and appointed a corporate trustee, even though they may be named as beneficiaries of the trust, the exclusion clause may have made them ineligible to receive income or capital distributions.

An exclusion like this can have an impact from a family law perspective and also from a tax perspective, if we have been purporting to make trust distributions to individuals thinking they were beneficiaries, not being aware of this exclusion hidden within the trust deed.