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Using A Corporate Trustee Instead Of Individuals For A Family Trust

A family trust is a great structure.  It provides tax flexibility whilst giving you asset separation in two directions.  But what does asset separation in two directions mean? And why might we suggest it to you as a recommendation?

First of all, why do you want asset separation? If there are multiple assets, you want to make sure that if someone makes a claim against the owner of a particular asset that your other assets can be quarantined from that claim. This isolation will mean that they can’t gain access to the assets that are yours and separate from the claim.

If you own a business and have a successful financial claim made against your business where the claim is for an amount that is more than the assets of the business, you will first need to use the business to cover the claim, and then find something additional to supplement the shortfall. In this case, if you also own your own home, and its worth is enough to cover that shortfall, it may be used to meet the claim by combining the business assets’ worth and the family home’s value. You could lose your family home!

However, if we structure your business in a particular way then the person making that claim will only have access to the assets in the business and you will be able to keep your family home.

This is what is called asset separation. Generally, it’s a good thing to employ, but it does have one flaw – it usually only goes one way.

If someone claims on your business, they won’t get the house but if they successfully make a financial claim against you, they will successfully get all of the assets that you own, including those of your business.  This is a risk that you must be willing to take if you own a business.

When you operate a business through a family trust instead of owning that business, you will merely “control” it, and have but a “mere expectancy” of being considered in the distribution of any profits or capital from that business.

The good part here is that although you only have a mere expectancy to be considered, we would set it up so it is YOU that “considers” who gets the money.  This means that if someone makes a claim against you then they can’t get access to assets in the family trust. What this does is give you two-way asset protection.

There is a bit of an issue with family trusts though – although you will see the debts of the trust as debts of the trust at law, they are in actual fact the debts of the trustee. If you are the trustee, all of the debts of the trust are your personal debts. You can use the trust assets to pay down those debts, but if the trust assets are insufficient to pay the debts, it will be up to you to pay off the rest.

When you’re an individual trustee of a trust, you lose the perk of asset separation, which is why a company may be used as a trustee, as the company does nothing other than act as the trustee of the trust. If there are insufficient funds in the trust to cover the debts of the trust, then those debts fall on the trustee and the creditors have no access to your personal assets because you have no individual debts owing.

Want to know more about asset separation? Interested in trusts? We’re here to help.

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Capital Gains Tax Can Be Tricky – That’s Why We’re Here To Help

September 13, 2021

If you have disposed of any assets (which can include the loss, destruction or sale of an asset) which are subject to capital gains tax, you need to let us know as soon as possible. These are known as capital gains events, which can affect the way in which a capital gain or loss is calculated, and when it is included in a net capital gain or loss.

The type of CGT event that applies to your situation may affect the time of the CGT event’s occurrence, and exactly how to calculate your capital gain or loss. As mentioned earlier, a CGT event can involve the loss of an asset, the destruction of an asset or the sale of an asset.

The Sale Of An Asset

If there is a contract of sale, the CGT event happens when you enter into the contract.

A common CGT asset involved with contracts of sale that is often sold is the house. The CGT event, in that case, happens on the date of the contract, not on the date of settlement.

If there is no contract of sale, the CGT event is usually when you stop being the asset’s owner.

Your capital gain or loss for the assets is usually the selling price, less the original cost and certain other costs associated with acquiring, holding and disposing of the asset.

Loss Or Destruction Of An Asset

If a CGT asset that you own is lost, stolen or destroyed, then the CGT event happens when you first receive compensation for the loss, theft or destruction.  In this way, the capital gain for such an asset is the amount of compensation less the asset’s original cost. If you do not receive compensation for the asset, the CGT event happens when the loss is discovered or the destruction occurred. Replacing the asset may result in being able to defer (or “roll over”) the capital gain until another CGT event occurs (e.g. selling the replacement asset).

The best way to ensure that you are doing the right thing when it comes to CGT tax is to keep your records up to date. This will assist us in ensuring that you are remaining compliant Any CGT events that have occurred need to be recorded (including asset disposals for at least five years after the event occurred. The best way to ensure this is to keep track of:

Keeping accurate and well-maintained records for CGT events is of utmost importance, as it allows us to ensure that you are accurately reporting your transactions and lodging your return correctly. If they incur any net capital losses, this needs to be reflected in the return as they may be able to offset these against capital gains in a later year. Once a loss has been offset against a capital gain, you need to keep the records about that CGT event for two years (for individuals and small businesses) or four years (for other taxpayers).

If you are in the process of disposing of a capital gains asset, you will want to be certain that you are doing the right thing. Capital gains tax can be a tricky issue, with plenty of rigamarole. Come speak with us to ensure that your returns are lodged with the most accurate and correct information needed for submission.