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IN THE MEDIA

Media Topdocs often features in the media, particularly when there is legislative change or additions to our suite of solutions. Our recent media releases our outlined below.

Topdocs launches estate planning platform

Date: 12 October 2017

As featured in AdviserVoice

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Leading legal document provider Topdocs has announced the release of Topdocs Protect, a new online platform that enables financial planners and accountants nationwide to request online and full service estate planning documentation and services including Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney.

Topdocs director Michael Spakman says Topdocs Protect provides financial planners and accountants with the opportunity to facilitate estate planning services for their clients, without assuming the risk associated with the provision of the legal documentation and advice.

SMSF document provider launches new platform

Date: 11 October 2017

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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Topdocs has rolled out Topdocs Protect, which allows practitioners to request online and “full service” estate planning documentation and services. This includes wills and enduring powers of attorney.

Director of the firm, Michael Spakman, is confident the service allows planners and accountants to facilitate estate planning services for their clients, without assuming the risk associated with the provision of the legal documentation and advice.

Topdocs launches estate planning platform

Date: 11 October 2017

As featured in IFA

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Topdocs has launched Topdocs Protect, an online estate planning platform that aims to provide full service estate planning documentation for accountants and financial advisers.

Topdocs director Michael Spakman said that Topdocs Protect will help accountants and financial planners deliver estate planning services to clients without assuming the risk associated with legal documentation and advice.

Topdocs unveils estate planning platform

Date: 11 October 2017

As featured in selfmanagedsuper

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Legal document provider Topdocs has released a new platform that enables financial planners and accountants to request online and full-service estate planning documentation and other services, including wills and enduring powers of attorney (EPOA).

Called Topdocs Protect, advisers and accountants have the opportunity to engage in estate planning services for their clients without assuming the risk associated with the provision of the legal documentation and advice.

Centrepoint expands virtual offering

Date: 15 September 2017

As featured in Financial Standard

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Financial advisers licensed by Centrepoint Alliance can now access estate planning documentation and advice following a partnership with a legal documentation company.

Joining forces with Topdocs, Centrepoint has enabled advisers to access to trust and estate planning documentation via an online portal and, if legal guidance is needed, clients can engage a lawyer versed in SMSF, company, estate planning and succession planning law.

Centrepoint launches estate planning portal

Date: 15 Sep 2017

As featured in Financial Observer

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Financial services firm Centrepoint Alliance has partnered with legal documentation company Topdocs to expand its virtual services range to financial advisers to include estate planning documentation and advice.

The company stated that a new online portal would allow Centrepoint advisers access to trust and planning documents with ease at an affordable rate, as well as the ability for financial planners to liaise with expert lawyers if legal guidance was needed.

Topdocs streamlines deed updates for BGL, Class Super and SuperMate users

Date: 1 May 2017

As featured in Adviser Voice

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Leading legal document provider Topdocs has announced the release of its new SMSF deed update software, which links directly with BGL, Class Super and SuperMate.

Following the introduction of the Superannuation Reform legislation, many accountants are speaking to their clients about updating their deeds, and according to Topdocs’ Director, Michael Spakman, Topdocs’ online Portal will greatly streamline the ordering process.

Topdocs Legal nabs senior SMSF lawyer

Date: 28 April 2017

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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Topdocs Legal has further bolstered its legal team with the addition of a senior associate who will work across superannuation, trusts and estate planning.

Caroline Harley joined Topdocs Legal as a senior associate this week. She will provide legal services across SMSFs, superannuation, trusts and estate planning, and also review legal documents.

Topdocs releases SMSF deed software changes

Date: 26 April 2017

As featured in Money Management

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Accountants are receiving a multitude of enquires around updating deeds in the lead up to the introduction of the superannuation reform legislation, according to legal document provider, Topdocs.

Topdocs had launched its new self-managed super fund (SMSF) deed update software in response to the forthcoming super changes, which director Michael Spakman said would assist accountants to perform better under time constraints.

Topdocs streamlines deed updates for BGL, Class Super SuperMate

Date: 24 April 2017

As featured in Professional Planner

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Leading legal document provider Topdocs has announced the release of its new SMSF deed update software, which links directly with BGL, Class Super and SuperMate.

Following the introduction of the Superannuation Reform legislation, many accountants are speaking to their clients about updating their deeds, and according to Topdocs’ Director, Michael Spakman, Topdocs’ online Portal will greatly streamline the ordering process.

Should I purchase property with my SMSF?

Date: 1 March 2017

As featured in nestegg.com.au

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There is a long list of possibilities attached to what SMSFs can do, but trustees should be careful when purchasing property with one.

Before purchasing a property in an SMSF, make sure you do all the necessary checks, particularly where borrowing is involved.

Documentation provider joins forces with ASAP Advice

Date: 14 February 2017

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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An SMSF documentation provider has partnered with SMSF compliance provider ASAP Advice to provide accountants with an integrated documentation tool.

Topdocs integrated its documentation service with ASAP’s online compliance service. The merge will enable unlicensed accountants to obtain statements of advice for SMSFs and pensions, while creating the necessary documents though the Topdocs system.

Topdocs and ASAP Advice combine to provide unlicensed accountants with innovative SMSF solution

Date: 13 February 2017

As featured in Adviser Voice

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The end of the 2017 financial year will put an unprecedented compliance squeeze on accountants servicing Australia’s 580,000 self-managed super funds, according to industry experts Topdocs and A.S.A.P.

Speaking at the launch of Topdocs’ integration with A.S.A.P.’s revolutionary online advice service for SMSF accountants, A.S.A.P. CEO Jim Hennington said: “Many won’t realise it yet, but this traditional tax planning period will present extraordinary compliance costs and risks for SMSF accountants, whether they’ve chosen to become financial licensees or not.

Topdocs integrates with ASAP

Date: 13 February 2017

As featured in Self-Managed Super

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Topdocs has teamed up with Australian fintech start-up Accountants Scaled Advice Platform (ASAP) to help accountants servicing Australia’s 580,000 SMSFs deal with an expected unprecedented compliance squeeze at the end of the 2017 financial year.

Under the integration, unlicensed accountants can use ASAP’s online advice service to obtain statements of advice (SOA) for SMSFs and pensions, and at the same time create the necessary documents through Topdocs.

Why you should update your SMSF deed sooner rather than later

Date: 20 January 2017

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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SMSF trustees are approaching the biggest change to the operation of their SMSF since 2007, when Simpler Super was introduced. What does this mean for you and your clients?

Prior to the 2007 changes, 1999 was a time of major change, when the term ‘Self Managed Super Fund’ took over from ‘Excluded Fund’, preservation and in-house asset changes were made, and the trustee/member rules were introduced.

Tips for urgently examining your clients' related party LRBAs

Date: 7 December 2016

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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With the 31 January 2017 deadline fast approaching, and an extension unlikely, SMSF practitioners and their clients are reminded to urgently examine their related party limited recourse borrowing arrangements and the actions that need to be taken.

This article considers the steps that should be taken to review related party LRBAs and the options available should SMSF trustees wish to amend their existing transactions.

Topdocs wins Trust Deed Supplier award in the fourth annual SMSF Service Provider Awards

Date: : 5 September 2016

As featured in Self-Managed Super

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The fourth annual SMSF Service Provider Awards have recognised the most reliable, innovative and leading-edge businesses in the industry.

Industry research specialist CoreData, in conjunction with selfmanagedsuper, hosted the awards ceremony in Sydney last Thursday night, recognising the best market participants as determined by SMSF advisers and accountants.

The best of the best were acknowledged across 16 areas of SMSF products and services, with specific infrastructure and innovator categories added this year.

Topdocs receives an accolade in SMSF Adviser’s 2016 SMSF Awards

Date: 8 July 2016

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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The winners of the 2016 SMSF Awards, recognising excellence among SMSF service providers, have officially been announced. Topdocs has won the 2016 highly commended award in the SMSF Document Provider category.

At an awards function in Sydney last night, SMSF Adviser announced the recipients of the highly coveted SMSF Awards, as well as the highly commended across 14 categories.

Now in its third year, the SMSF Awards highlights the organisations that are best servicing the needs of the SMSF sector based on the sentiments, insights and feedback of SMSF practitioners.

Topdocs automates ABN/TFN applications for companies and trusts

Date: 27 June 2016

As featured in Professional Planner

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Following on from their automation of the ABN and TFN application process for SMSFs, Topdocs has now extended their time saving feature to Companies and Trusts, an industry first.

With over 200,000 companies registered in Australia each year, as well as huge volumes of Unit and Discretionary Trusts, Topdocs director, Michael Spakman, says this automation will save the accounting, legal and financial planning professions thousands of hours each year.

Topdocs adds trust, company automation

Date: 20 June 2016

As featured in Self-Managed Super

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Topdocs has expanded the automation of the Australian business number (ABN) and tax file number (TFN) online process, which originally only enabled SMSFs to use the feature, to companies and trusts.

Topdocs extends ABN and TFN application

Date: 20 June 2016

As featured in Financial Standard

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Following on from its automation of the Australian Business Number and Tax File Number application process for SMSFs, Topdocs has now extended the time saving feature to companies and trusts in what it says is an industry first.

Topdocs extends automation to companies and trusts

Date: 17 June 2016

As featured in ifa

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Legal documentation provider Topdocs has extended its automation of the Australian Business Number (ABN) and Tax File Number (TFN) application process to companies and trusts for financial planners, following its automation for SMSFs.

New TFN service launched

Date: 16 June 2016

As featured in Public Accountant

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Following the launch of its automation service for the application of ABNs and TFNs for SMSFs, documentation provider Topdocs has extended the service to companies and trusts.

Topdocs automates ABN and TFN applications for Companies and Trusts

Date: 16 June 2016

As featured in Adviser Voice

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Following on from their automation of the ABN and TFN application process for SMSFs, Topdocs has now extended their time saving feature to Companies and Trusts, an industry first.

Topdocs extends ABN and TFN automisation

Date: 16 June 2016

As featured in SuperReview

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Automisation of the Australian business number (ABN) and tax file number (TFN) for the self-managed super fund (SMSF) application process will now be available to companies and trusts, after Topdocs extended their features to new sectors.

Topdocs to offer new service

Date: 16 June 2016

As featured in Accountants Daily

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Following the launch of its automation service for the application of ABNs and TFNs for SMSFs, documentation provider Topdocs has extended the service to companies and trusts.

Topdocs launches new service for TFN applications

Date: 15 June 2016

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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Following the launch of its automation service for the application of ABNs and TFNs for SMSFs, documentation provider Topdocs has extended the service to companies and trusts.

Five key considerations when purchasing property in an SMSF

Date: 15 June 2016

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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This article examines the necessary checks to perform before recommending your client purchase a property in their SMSF, particularly where borrowing is involved.

A practical guide to the LRBA safe harbours

Date: 20 April 2016

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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What are the practical steps that must be taken by SMSF trustees with related-party LRBAs, following the release of the Practical Compliance Guidelines (PCG) 2016/5 by the ATO?

Since the ATO released its PCG 2016/5, much has been written about the ATO’s requirements for a related-party LRBA to be considered to be within a safe harbour.

But what does that mean, in a practical sense, for the trustee of an SMSF that may have loan terms not fully meeting the PCG 2016/5 guidelines?

How can I make my binding death benefit nomination watertight?

Date: 12 April 2016

As featured in nestegg.com.au (Experts Q&A)

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Australian courts have increasingly been asked to determine superannuation death benefit disputes, with many disputes concerning the validity of binding death benefit nominations.

Given the number of court cases, it can be assumed many have not proceeded to court because of the costs involved.

That means many binding death benefit nominations, or the trust deed governing the superannuation fund, have not been sufficiently clear to ensure a binding death benefit nomination prepared by a superannuation member is watertight.

Transacting SMSF bank accounts: authority and controls

Date: 4 April 2016

As featured in Self-Managed Super

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When the trustee of an SMSF opens a bank account to conduct the financial transactions of the SMSF, who should be authorised to transact on the account?

One decision often given minimal consideration when establishing an SMSF is the decision concerning authority to transact the SMSF finances and any limitations to be placed on those authorisations.

Linking death benefits to estate distributions

Date: 14 March 2016

As featured in Self-Managed Super

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A person’s Will cannot generally direct the distribution of superannuation benefits. Their SMSF and their Will can, however, work together to maximise benefits paid to the deceased person’s beneficiaries, says Michael Harkin.

Using a case study example, this article explains how, with effective estate planning, a person can ensure an equalisation of benefits paid to beneficiaries, albeit from different sources.

Exploring the dangers of electronic signatures

Date: 2 March 2016

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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In certain states, legislation precludes individual trustees from using electronic signatures to execute their SMSF. SMSF practitioners may be inadvertently putting both themselves and their clients at risk.

In this article, Senior Lawyer from Topdocs Legal, Lav Chhabra, examines the state and federal based legislation governing electronic signatures to determine if your clients can execute their deeds electronically.

Topdocs announces new integration

Date: 18 February 2016

As featured in Accountants Daily

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Legal document provider Topdocs has announced a collaboration with CBA to enable advisers to populate a CBA cash account application at the same time they establish an SMSF for a client.

Topdocs director Michael Spakman said the new feature is all about saving advisers time when ordering their legal documents.

“Our goal is to provide advisers with quick and easy access to quality legal documents,” said Mr Spakman.

"Creating time-saving integrations with widely used industry providers such as the CBA enables us to provide great efficiencies for advisers when ordering their legal documents, enabling them to focus more on income-producing work and less on administration."

Topdocs announces integration with CBA

Date: 18 February 2016

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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Legal document provider Topdocs has collaborated with CBA to enable advisers to populate a Commonwealth Bank cash account application at the same time they establish an SMSF for a client.

Topdocs director Michael Spakman said the new feature is all about saving advisers time when ordering their legal documents.

“Our goal is to provide advisers with quick and easy access to quality legal documents,” said Mr Spakman.

CBA signs onto Topdocs for SMSF integration

Date: 17 February 2016

As featured in Money Management

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Topdocs has penned an agreement with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) in a bid to increase efficiency and save time for advisers when ordering legal documentation.

The ‘Instant SMSF' online application — which was first announced in November last year — was formed to help advisers during the process of setting up self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) establishment documentation and is available in Topdocs' online portal.

Topdocs adds Commonwealth Bank integration

Date: 17 February 2016

As featured in Financial Standard

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Legal document provider Topdocs has created the ability for advisers to populate a Commonwealth Bank Accelerator Cash Account application - distributed by CommSec Adviser Services - at the same time as establishing their self-managed super funds through its Instant SMSF online application.

Via the Instant SMSF online application, available in Topdocs' online portal, advisers can also set up a corporate trustee and investment strategy for the fund and have the ABN application with the Australian Business Register automatically populated.

The viability of reserves in an SMSF : Part 1 & Part 2

Date: 8 & 15 February 2016

As featured in Self-Managed Super

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Following the major changes to superannuation legislation in 2007, the attraction of reserves in SMSFs diminished. Industry innovation and a response to further legislation and regulatory interpretation has, however, seen somewhat of a resurgence in the use of reserves in SMSFs.

Part 1 of this two-part article considered some reserves that may be used by trustees of SMSFs and some guidance on the use of reserves. Part 2 continues the consideration of the range of reserves and looks at rules regarding payment out of the reserves.

Avoiding pitfalls with BDBNs

Date: 27 January 2016

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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Many BDBNs have successfully directed death benefits of deceased members to those nominated to receive benefits. However, not all have gone according to plan, as a growing list of legal cases indicates.

With an increasing amount of case law illustrating what can go wrong with BDBNs, let’s take a look back to review the evolution of BDBNs and, in doing so, highlight matters trustees and their advisers must consider when having BDBNs prepared.

Topdocs adds automated ABN capability

Date: 16 November 2015

As featured in Self-Managed Super

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Topdocs has added automated Australian business number (ABN) applications for SMSFs to its online portal through a new direct link with the Australian Business Register (ABR).

The new feature automatically pre-populates the entire ABN application form for advisers free of charge when they set up their SMSF establishment documentation with the legal document provider.

New Topdocs tool speeds SMSF application

Date: 16 November 2015

As featured in Financial Standard

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Legal document provider Topdocs has developed a quick and easy way for new SMSFs to register for an ABN and Tax File Number through its new Instant SMSF online application.

Topdocs director Michael Spakman said the new feature, available in Topdocs' online Portal, will benefit planners and accountants alike.

Topdocs launches ABN tool for advisers

Date: 13 November 2015

As featured in Money Management

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Specialist advice and legal document provider, Topdocs, has unveiled a new registration tool geared at helping advisers streamline Australian Business Number (ABN) applications when processing self-managed super fund (SMSF) documentation.

The new application, known as ‘Instant SMSF', will help advisers during the process of setting up SMSF establishment documentation and will be available in Topdocs' online portal.

Topdocs launches new SMSF application tool

Date: 13 November 2015

As featured in ifa

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Legal documentation provider Topdocs has launched a new feature aimed at helping advisers and accountants to apply for an ABN and tax file number when establishing a new SMSF.

According to Topdocs, the Instant SMSF online application feature will provide "relief" for advisers and accountants from the "frustrating process" of applying for an ABN or tax file number for a new SMSF.

Topdocs automates ABN applications for SMSFs

Date: 13 November 2015

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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SMSF documentation provider Topdocs has this week announced a new service that will automate ABN applications for SMSFs.

Topdocs has automated ABN applications for SMSFs through a new direct link with the Australian Business Register.

BDBNs: Where does it all go wrong?

Date: 6 November 2015

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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Binding death benefit nominations, or BDBNs, have been part of the superannuation landscape for quite some time - but not all have worked as intended.

With an increasing amount of case law illustrating what can go wrong with BDBNs, let's take a look back to review the evolution of BDBNs and doing so, highlight matters trustees and their advisers must consider when having BDBNs prepared.

Topdocs and NAB partner to streamline CMAs for advisers

Date: 8 October 2015

As featured in Professional Planner

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The exciting new venture, available via Topdocs’ online ordering Portal, enables advisers to complete a single online application form for their SMSF, Company or Trust set up, and to receive a populated NAB CMA application form with their establishment documentation.

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Topdocs director Michael Spakman says the partnership was developed to increase productivity for advisers when setting up their new structures:

“Many advisers will set up a CMA when they establish a structure for a client, so this partnership with the NAB is a natural progression in our industry to limit the amount of time it takes for advisers to fulfil their legal structure set ups for their clients”.

“As part of this new partnership, we are also looking to further streamline the establishment process for a number of other NAB products in the future”.

Topdocs will be demonstrating their new integration with NAB at the FPA Professionals Congress to be held in Brisbane on November 18-20 (Stand No. 7).

NAB and Topdocs team up for new adviser service

Date: 8 October 2015

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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SMSF provider Topdocs has partnered with NAB to allow advisers to establish Cash Manager Accounts (CMAs) at the same time as ordering SMSF, company and trust documentation.

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The new venture, available via Topdocs’ online ordering portal, enables advisers to complete an online application form for their SMSF, company or trust set-up and receive a populated NAB CMA application form with their establishment documentation.

"Many advisers will set up a CMA when they establish a structure for a client, so this partnership with the NAB is a natural progression in our industry to limit the amount of time it takes for advisers to fulfil their legal structure set-ups for their clients," said Topdocs director Michael Spakman.

"As part of this new partnership, we are also looking to further streamline the establishment process for a number of other NAB products in the future," he said.

Topdocs, NAB team up to streamline CMAs

Date: 6 October 2015

As featured in Self-Managed Super

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Topdocs has formed a partnership with National Australia Bank (NAB) to provide a streamlined solution for advisers to establish cash management accounts (CMA) at the same time as ordering their SMSF, company and trust documentation.

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The new venture is available through Topdocs’ online ordering portal and enables advisers to complete a single online application form for their SMSF, company or trust set-up, and to receive a populated NAB CMA application form with their establishment documentation.

Topdocs director Michael Spakman said the partnership was developed to increase productivity for advisers when setting up their new structures.

"Many advisers will set up a CMA when they establish a structure for a client, so this partnership with the NAB is a natural progression in our industry to limit the amount of time it takes for advisers to fulfil their legal structure set-ups for their clients," Spakman said.

"As part of this new partnership, we are also looking to further streamline the establishment process for a number of other NAB products in the future."

Topdocs is due to demonstrate the new integration with NAB at the FPA Professionals Congress in Brisbane next month.

NAB enlists Topdocs for CMA service

Date: 6 October 2015

As featured in Financial Standard

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NAB has partnered with legal document provider Topdocs to streamline its NAB Cash Manager investment accounts.

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The partnership enables financial planners to use Topdoc's online portal to establish a NAB CMA at the same time as a SMSF, company or trust via a single online form.

"Many advisers will set up a CMA when they establish a structure for a client, so this partnership with the NAB is a natural progression in our industry to limit the amount of time it takes for advisers to fulfil their legal structure set ups for their clients," said Topdocs director Michael Spakman.

"As part of this new partnership, we are also looking to further streamline the establishment process for a number of other NAB products in the future."

Topdocs links to BGL

Date: 14 September 2015

As featured in Self-Managed Super

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Legal document provider Topdocs has partnered with BGL Corporate Solutions to launch a time-saving feature, with further streamlining planned for the future.

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The new integration will allow Simple Fund 360 users to order SMSF documents without rekeying fund information.

The new feature, available through Topdocs’ online ordering portal, also provides Simple Fund clients the ability to update their SMSF trust deeds without having to complete any order forms, which will mean enormous time-saving gains for bulk updates.

Topdocs director Michael Spakman said the new integration was the first in a number planned for Simple Fund 360.

“We are working with BGL to utilise their cloud-based technology to provide Simple Fund 360 clients with a range of streamlined document ordering solutions,” Spakman said.

The new integration is the latest in a series recently implemented by Topdocs with BGL, including BGL’s Corporate Affairs System software.

“Our key focus at Topdocs is providing advisers with quick and easy access to quality documentation and integrations such as those recently implemented with BGL enable us to fulfil this vision,” Spakman added.

BGL managing director Ron Lesh said: “Topdocs are the first document provider to utilise Simple Fund 360’s application programming interface (API) to extract data from the application and [are] a key business partner.

“BGL released the Simple Fund 360 API to all our business partners last month.

“There are over 50 businesses that are currently working to integrate their applications with the Simple Fund 360 API, so we expect to see a lot of announcements over the next few months.”

Topdocs adds new integrations with BGL

Date: 10 September 2015

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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SMSF document provider Topdocs has this week announced new document integrations for BGL Simple Fund 360 clients.

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The new integrations enable Simple Fund 360 users to order their Topdocs SMSF documents without having to re-enter any fund information, according to an announcement from Topdocs.

These new features, available through Topdocs’ online ordering portal, allow Simple Fund 360 clients to update their SMSF trust deeds without having to complete an order form.

“We are working with BGL to utilise their cloud-based technology to provide Simple Fund 360 clients with a range of streamlined document ordering solutions,” said Topdocs director Michael Spakman.

“Our key focus at Topdocs is providing advisers with quick and easy access to quality documentation, and integrations such as those recently implemented with BGL enable us to fulfil this vision,” Mr Spakman added.

According to Topdocs, the new integration is the latest in a series recently implemented by Topdocs with BGL, including with BGL’s Corporate Affairs System software.

Topdocs integrates with BGL

Date: 13 July 2015

As featured in Self-Managed Super

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Topdocs partnered with BGL last week to give the software provider’s clients using its Corporate Affairs System (CAS) software access to automated documentation.

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The integration was now available for CAS Desktop clients and will be made available in BGL’s web-based CAS 360 in 2016.

“The new partnership will provide BGL’s CAS clients with a simple, cost-effective solution for their company and trust documentation,” BGL managing director Ron Lesh said.

“Our scale has allowed us to negotiate an industry-leading service fee for our clients.”

BGL clients using CAS for company incorporations with ASIC can use the Topdocs integration to obtain company registration and trust establishment documentation for $66 per package.

All the data that populated the company documentation was taken directly from CAS, meaning accountants could receive their establishment documents in under 60 seconds through the new service, greatly reducing staff time and improving accuracy, Topdocs said.

“The new integration enables accountants to simplify and streamline the way they order their company and trust documentation through CAS, saving time and helping them to generate greater margins by providing complete documentation for companies and trusts,” Topdocs director Michael Spakman said.

“And with pricing so sharp, the accountant can either choose to pass on the cost savings to their clients or to generate more income for their practice.”

BGL has also worked with Topdocs to provide a multi-company constitution update service.

The CAS software was developed in 1987 as a comprehensive corporate compliance management solution.

Last month, BGL announced it had released the Act2 Actuarial Certificate Service through its web-based administration offering, Simple Fund 360. More actuarial certificate providers would be added, it said.

BGL partners with SMSF documentation provider

Date: 9 July 2015

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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SMSF software provider BGL has integrated a trust documentation service into its BGL CAS software which will enable users to access company and trust documentation.

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BGL has collaborated with Topdocs in order to provide the new service.

Clients of BGL using CAS for company incorporations with ASIC can utilise the Topdocs integration to obtain company registration and trust establishment documentation.

According to BGL, all data used to populate the company documentation is taken directly from CAS, meaning accountants can receive their establishment documents within 60 seconds through its new service.

BGL chief executive Ron Lesh said the new partnership will provide BGL's CAS clients with a “simple, cost effective solution for their company and trust documentation".

Topdocs director Michael Spakman said the new integration enables accountants to “simplify and streamline the way they order their company and trust documentation through CAS”.

BGL has also worked with Topdocs to provide a multi-company constitution update service.

Mr Spakman said the update service will reduce the time required for updating hundreds of company constitutions from hours to minutes while assisting accountants to standardise company constitutions across all clients.

BGL, Topdocs announce partnership

Date: 9 July 2015

As featured in Accountantsdaily

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SMSF software provider BGL has integrated a trust documentation service into its BGL CAS software which will enable users to access company and trust documentation.

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BGL has collaborated with Topdocs in order to provide the new service.

Clients of BGL using CAS for company incorporations with ASIC can utilise the Topdocs integration to obtain company registration and trust establishment documentation.

According to BGL, all data used to populate the company documentation is taken directly from CAS, meaning accountants can receive their establishment documents within 60 seconds through its new service.

BGL chief executive Ron Lesh said the new partnership will provide BGL's CAS clients with a “simple, cost effective solution for their company and trust documentation".

Topdocs director Michael Spakman said the new integration enables accountants to “simplify and streamline the way they order their company and trust documentation through CAS”.

BGL has also worked with Topdocs to provide a multi-company constitution update service.

Mr Spakman said the update service will reduce the time required for updating hundreds of company constitutions from hours to minutes while assisting accountants to standardise company constitutions across all clients.

Topdocs, BGL partnership to provide BGL’s CAS clients with company and trust documents

Date: 8 July 2015

As featured in Professional Planner

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Topdocs, Australia’s leading provider of SMSF, company and trust documentation, and BGL Corporate Solutions, Australia’s leading supplier of company compliance and SMSF administration software, have partnered to provide BGL’s CAS clients with access to a range of corporate documentation with automated ordering and delivery through BGL’s CAS software.

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BGL Managing Director Ron Lesh says “The new partnership will provide BGL’s CAS clients with a simple, cost effective solution for their company and trust documentation.”

BGL clients using CAS for company incorporations with ASIC can utilise the Topdocs integration to obtain company registration and trust establishment documentation from just $66 per package. “Our scale has allowed us to negotiate an industry leading service fee for our clients” said Lesh.

Topdocs Director Michael Spakman says “the new integration enables accountants to simplify and streamline the way they order their company and trust documentation through CAS, saving time and helping them to generate greater margins by providing complete documentation for companies and trusts”.

All the data to populate the company documentation is taken directly from CAS meaning accountants can receive their establishment documents in under 60 seconds through this new service, greatly reducing staff time and improving accuracy. “And with pricing so sharp, the accountant can either choose to pass on the cost savings to their clients or to generate more income for their practice” added Spakman.

BGL has also worked with Topdocs to provide a multi company constitution update service. “This sensational service reduces the time to update hundreds of company constitutions from hours to minutes while helping the accountant to standardise company constitutions across all clients” added Lesh.

This integration is available now for CAS Desktop clients and will also be made available in BGL’s web based CAS 360 in 2016.

New Class APIs deliver greatly enhanced usability and security for clients and partners

Date: 6 July 2015

As featured in Professional Planner

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Class, the provider of the award-winning Class Super, Australia’s leading cloud-based solution for administering self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs), has announced two new product features to further streamline SMSF administration and unlock the value of Class solutions for its clients and partners.

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As part of its drive to continue to build its partner ecosystem and deliver whole of business integrated solutions, the cloud software specialist has launched a new suite of APIs (application programming interface) and ‘Login with Class’ functionality, to enhance security, usability and connectivity for over 80,000 SMSFs administered on the Class system today.

The new Class APIs use the latest security protocol – the OAuth 2.0 framework – making possible a secure mechanism to instantly populate data, sync information or extract/ input data between programs.

Class APIs enable industry partners and end users to build innovative software solutions, automate data entry, prepopulate workpapers and build other time saving tools – driving significant efficiency gains, improved accuracy and enhanced user experiences.

Utilisation of APIs has grown at a significant rate over the past few years with cloud providers reshaping the way SMSF professionals work. This has been evident in a number of industries, primarily legal documentation suppliers, Customer Relationship Management providers, property services, actuarial certificates and SMSF audit solutions.

Kevin Bungard, CEO and Executive Director said: “We watched our partners build a level of technology integration into our offering over the years and the momentum for this was only continuing. However with all things Class we want to set the benchmark for integration and the release of this suite of Class APIs allows us to further enhance the Class experience.”

Class has additionally developed ‘Login with Class’, a single sign on facility which provides a more user-friendly and secure access process to integrated solutions. With a single click, there is direct authentication of the end user, enabling greater security across different applications, as well as a faster log on process.

Class early access program

A number of Class partners are participating in an early access program for the new APIs and Login with Class functionality. These include Auditflow, CaseWare, DBA, NowInfinity and Topdocs. Additional partners will be announced over the coming months.

For Rich Neal, CEO of Auditflow and an Early Access integration partner, the continued innovation from Class is ideal: “We were really pleased to be involved in the early access program for the Class APIs. The Auditflow focus has always been to support the audit process, providing everything for our clients. This suite of APIs supports this and greatly contributes to our path for faster and more efficient audits. We are really excited about what the future will bring.”

Craig Waldon, CEO of CaseWare and an early access integration partner said: “The new offering from Class is an important consideration for CaseWare and our auditor customers. We are moving away from desktop-to-cloud, directly to cloud-to-cloud and we find the vision that Class provides entirely in line with our strategy to be ahead of the latest technology and also remain very service focused and provide highly efficient solutions for our auditors.”

Michael Spakman, Director, Topdocs and an early access integration partner said: “Topdocs has a long standing relationship with Class Super, having developed a range of seamless integrations for Class users over the years to make the process of ordering quality SMSF documentation quick and easy. We are very pleased to be part of Class Super’s early release program and to partner with them as they roll out their new breed of APIs, technology that will enable Class Super users to order Topdocs documentation largely without the need to key in any client details during the ordering process.

Preservation: the end of an era

Date: 3 June 2015

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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SMSF practitioners will need to pay greater attention to their clients' date of birth from 1 July 2015 since the rules regarding preservation in superannuation are changing.

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Some history

The last significant change to the rules concerning preservation of benefits in superannuation occurred on 1 July 1999.

The 1 July 1999 changes basically directed that what were then referred to as deductible contributions, such as self-employed contributions and voluntary employer contributions (i.e. salary sacrifice contributions), and what are now considered to be non-concessional contributions, would be treated as preserved benefits.

Prior to 1 July 1999, most of the preserved benefits were derived from mandated contributions (i.e. superannuation guarantee contributions) only.

The current situation

That amending legislation also introduced a timeframe for an increase in the preservation age which, in 1999, seemed so far into the future as to not be of any concern.

However, we are now almost at that point in the future. The preservation age timeframe, based on the date of birth of a superannuation member, is set out in the schedule below.

What is the impact?

On 1 July 2015, the preservation age for new ‘entrants’ will effectively become 56 years of age.
Interestingly, no one will reach their preservation age in the year 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 (i.e. 1 July 1960 plus 56 years equals 1 July 2016).

That same situation will then apply every second year until 1 July 2024 (subject to there being no legislative changes in the meantime).

Why the extra focus?

Until 30 June 2015, advisers basically need to continue to ensure a client has reached 55 years of age, after which they may access their superannuation by:

- meeting a full condition of release as a result of having permanently retired from employment; or
- commence a transition to retirement income stream.

From 1 July 2015, that will change since not all 55-year-olds will have reached their preservation age.
In other words, those turning 55 after 1 July 2015 will need to wait until 1 July 2016 before reaching their preservation age, and so on, for the years set out in the table above.

For advisers, therefore, consideration of the ages of clients takes on greater meaning post-1 July 2015.

How can it go wrong?

Consider, for a moment, the situation where an adviser recommends to an individual that they commence a transition to retirement income stream once they turn 55 years of age on 1 August 2015.

The advice would have been sound if the individual had turned 55 on or before 30 June 2015 but, by forgetting the impact of the change, the adviser may have inadvertently caused the fund to breach both superannuation and taxation legislation, resulting in potentially significant penalties for early access to superannuation.

What else will change?

The age increase relates only to the timing of preservation and access to superannuation after reaching preservation age.

The age of 55 has also been applied to other actions relevant to superannuation - for instance the capital gains tax small business concessions whereby an individual:

- may be eligible for the CGT small business 15-year exemption if they have retired after reaching age 55, and they may utilise the CGT cap amount to contribute the proceeds to superannuation; or
- may be entitled to claim the small business retirement exemption and, if aged less than 55, must roll the amount of capital gain disregarded into superannuation (and may do so if aged 55 or more).

The age of 55 has not changed for those entitlements; the only change is to the age at which preservation of superannuation benefits can be lifted, through the meeting of specific conditions of release.

Does that apply to someone who is already 55?

No. If an individual is already aged 55 at 1 July 2015, but has neither met a full condition of release nor commenced a transition to retirement income stream, their preservation age will remain 55, regardless of when they eventually access their superannuation.

Conclusion

Advisers and trustees now have another aspect to consider when advising clients in the age range of 55 to 60, in respect to their ability to access their superannuation.

Care needs to be taken to ensure they are not incorrect in their advice.

Michael Harkin, national manager for training and advice, Topdocs

The implications of recent TFN and ABN changes for SMSFs

Date: 25 March 2015

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The ATO has recently made changes to the requirements that must be satisfied for an SMSF to apply for an ABN and TFN at establishment – but what does this mean?

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The two additional requirements that have to be met add an additional step to the process of applying for the ABN and TFN.

Taken directly from the application form on the abr.gov.au website, there are two additional questions that have been added to the ABN|TFN application form for SMSFs, which are as follows:

  • What is the value of the assets held by the fund?
  • Does the fund have governing rules?

If the applicant selects that there are no assets held in the fund, or that the fund does not have governing rules, the application for the ABN and TFN will be refused by the ATO.

What implications do these additional requirements have?

In practice, this means that the ABN and TFN cannot be applied for until the governing rules of the fund have been executed and a contribution has been received by the fund.

The first criteria is straightforward. However the second criteria has caused confusion amongst practitioners, given that members can’t rollover their member balances into the fund until the ABN has been obtained. Therefore, how can a contribution be made into the fund before the fund is allowed to register for the ABN?

Topdocs have been in contact with senior management at the ATO in relation to this aspect, especially in the circumstance where the members may be unable to make a cash contribution to the fund eg. if all members are over the age of 65 and don’t satisfy the work test.

The practical solution to meeting this requirement is where the members are permitted to make a contribution, have one of the members of the fund make a nominal cash contribution to the fund eg. $1. This contribution will be held by the trustees as cash until the bank account has been opened for the fund. Then, when the ABN has been applied for and received by the fund, the cash contribution should be deposited into the bank account of the fund as a contribution by the member.

What if the member is not permitted to make a contribution?

In the situation where a member is not permitted to make a contribution to the fund eg. due to their age, there doesn’t seem to be a clear response from the ATO on how to satisfy the asset criteria. However, the practical reality is that confirmation in the application form that the fund holds an asset should be made notwithstanding in this circumstance, so that the application form with the ABN can proceed, as our understanding is that the ATO will not penalise a fund in doing so in this particular circumstance.

Michael Spakman, director, Topdocs

Tips and traps for SMSF estate planning

Date: 19 March 2015

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Topdocs national manager, training and advice, Michael Harkin speaks to Miranda Brownlee about the dos and don'ts of estate planning for your SMSF clients.

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What estate planning strategies should SMSF practitioners recommend their clients?

Well, first of all, making sure that they do have broad coverage, but in particular I would suggest that it’s very important to have enduring powers of attorney for a number of reasons, but predominantly in the event of incapacity.

So if a member trustee or director becomes incapacitated, there is scope for someone to effectively remove them and stand in their place. Without that, depending on the jurisdiction, the various guardianship wards would appoint someone or they would need to roll over that money into an industry fund or a public offer fund, so powers of attorney are very important.

The other two main documents, I guess, would be the binding death benefit nomination and, if there’s a pension, a reversionary pension nomination. Something else we have on top of that from an estate planning perspective is a death benefit guardian. Now what a death benefit guardian does is effectively oversee the decisions of the trustee following the death of an individual if there is no binding death benefit nomination or reversionary pension nomination, so it’s just an extra layer to ensure that the remaining directors or trustees continue to act in the interests of the deceased member.

Is there anything practitioners need to be sure of when they’re putting these documents together?

Yes, a couple of things. The family relationship in particular. More and more we talk about the predominance of blended families; when there is a blended family you have a step parent, a step child relationship… I’ll take a step back: the two parents may consider their children as their own but in reality they’re not so they may not advise or provide the adviser with that distinction. Following the death of the natural parent, if for example the step parent wanted to leave money to those step children, that may fail. There are ways around this, but if the adviser in preparing the binding death benefit nomination is not aware, there can be some serious ramifications because the distribution of that benefit may fail.

How often should these documents be updated?

They should be considered or reviewed annually, we think, but the general standard I guess is every three years. Having said that, if nothing changes in three years then no, I suppose an informal review annually and a more formal review every three years and a change if that formal review brings up anything that needs fixing.

So it’s circumstantial then?

Yes, very much so, yes. For whatever reason three years just seems to be the norm.

In your opinion, should SMSFs always be established with a corporate trustee structure?

Yes, and there are a number of reasons for that. There’s really no good reason for having an individual trustee, when it’s all boiled down. The main reason [people avoid corporate trustees] is cost but once you’ve paid the cost for the company in year one, well the cost is minimal after that, and so the differential in the longer term scenario is very minor.

I’ve actually been in the scenario where I’ve had clients with individual trustees and one of them has passed away and I’ve seen first-hand the additional cost that comes with having to get everything fixed. So it makes that upfront saving a false economy.

How can practitioners convince their clients that despite the extra cost, it’s worthwhile? Is it a challenge for advisers and accountants?

Yes, it is to some extent because I guess once the adviser or the accountant suggests an SMSF, one of the first things that will probably be discussed is cost, and so to add another layer of cost on can be a bit of a hurdle.

The example that I’ve just mentioned [has been used with] clients in a number of instances and they’ve seen the value in it. One of the things I say, and I suppose this is more in presentations to advisers, is that when most SMSFs are established, they’re established as two-member funds, the husband and the wife. That’s a huge generalisation, but that’s the predominance.

One of the things I say is that fund will not always be a two-member fund. Whether it be through divorce or whether it be through death, at some stage someone is going to be moving out of the fund, and if there is a corporate trustee involved it’s a much simpler and less costly process than if there is an individual trustee.

If a client has already set up their SMSF as an individual trustee, is it worth moving them over as a corporate trustee?

It’s still worth it, but there’s a lot more work involved because you need to change the investments into the name of the trustee and so on, but I can give you examples off the top of my head where it may have to be done anyway, or it may be best that it's done.

One is when they’re travelling and are going to be overseas for quite a period of time. In that instance, quite often the best way to manage that, because of the requirements regarding SMSFs being managed from within Australia, is to have enduring powers of attorney step in as trustees or directors in place of the actual members.

In that instance, if there’s a corporate trustee then the assets will still be registered in the name of the company, and so really very little needs to be done; if they are in the name of the individual trustees, then you would effectively need to change the assets into the name of the new trustees and then of course when those people move back to Australia you change it back again. So that’s one instance where making the change would make sense.

Another one is if they intend to borrow within their fund then the chances are the bank will require a corporate trustee. Some banks will accept individual trustees, but in general they do require a corporate trustee so it may have to be done at that time. So there are triggers where it is necessary or may be necessary or beneficial to make the change.

What are some of the estate planning strategies for SMSFs that hold property or do have limited recourse borrowing arrangements?

The very vital aspect, I think, is to have insurance in the fund to enable the payment of the loan in the event of the death of one of the members. There’s two main reasons for that. One is that the income from the fund may be needed to provide for the day-to-day needs of the surviving spouse, particularly if it was the major bread winner who passed away, all of a sudden the surviving spouse is needing income to live on.

The other thing the insurance does is reduce the need for… in the event that there is no surviving spouse, for example the assets are going to pass to children, they may want to retain that benefit within super so the payout of the parent's asset, for example, would be met by the cash provided by the insurance rather than the asset itself because the parent’s benefit would have to be paid out. So with proper structuring you can have an insurance coverage that doesn’t have to be paid out on the death of a member and it can be used for some planning purposes then.

Integrations to ‘dramatically reduce’ SMSF set-up time

Date: 10 February 2015

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Topdocs has announced two new integrations that will dramatically reduce the time it takes practitioners to set up an SMSF.

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The new integrations, both with Class Super, mean practitioners won’t have to manually set up new funds in Class if they order their SMSF establishment documentation through Topdocs. The new fund will be instantly available in Class and will contain all of the fund, member and trustee details.

In addition, Class Super users will also have the ability to populate their document order forms with the fund information already stored in the system.

Topdocs director Michael Spakman said the company is also finalising a new integration for Xero users, meaning they too will be able to pre-populate their company, trust and SMSF orders with client information stored in Xero.

“These integrations have been developed to reduce the time it takes advisers to set up new structures, freeing up their time to focus on more important things, such as the provision of client advice” said Mr Spakman.

Class Super CEO Kevin Bungard said the new integrations will be a boost to practitioners’ efficiency.

"Topdocs are a leader in integrated SMSF services – they understand the workflow and the efficiency required for dealing with SMSFs in bulk. The latest release from Topdocs extends that same efficiency and expertise to setting up new SMSFs."

Topdocs has similar existing integrations with BGL and Macquarie.

Topdocs slashes SMSF set up time for Class Super users

Date: 10 February 2015

As featured in Professional Planner

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Leading document provider Topdocs has released two new integrations with Class Super that will dramatically reduce the time it takes for users to set up their self managed super funds.

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Topdocs director Michael Spakman says the new integrations mean Class Super users won’t have to manually set up new Funds in Class if they order their SMSF establishment documentation through Topdocs.

“Our new integrations provide Class Super users with the option for Topdocs to instantly create a new Fund entry in Class at the conclusion of their SMSF establishment order, meaning users won’t have to manually enter the new Fund data.”

The new Fund will be instantly available in Class Super, and will contain all of the Fund, Member and Trustee details.

In addition to this functionality, Topdocs has also provided Class Super users with the ability to populate their document order forms with the Fund information already stored in Class Super.

“For those users who prefer to set up their Funds in Class Super first, we have also provided the ability for users to prepopulate their Topdocs SMSF establishment order form with the information stored in Class Super, meaning they can order their documents without rekeying any client information” says Spakman.

Topdocs is also finalising a new integration for Xero users, meaning they too will be able to prepopulate their Company, Trust and SMSF orders with client information stored in Xero.

These integrations have been developed to reduce the time it takes advisers to set up new structures, freeing up their time to focus on more important things, such as the provision of client advice” says Spakman.

Class Super CEO Kevin Bungard said of the integration “Topdocs are a leader in integrated SMSF services – they understand the workflow and the efficiency required for dealing with SMSFs in bulk. The latest release from Topdocs extends that same efficiency and expertise to setting up new SMSFs”.

Topdocs will be demonstrating their new Class Super and Xero integrations, as well as their existing BGL and Macquarie integrations at the SPAA conference held in Melbourne from February 18 – 20.

Topdocs, Class announce new integrations

Date: 10 February 2015

As featured in Accountantsdaile

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Topdocs and Class Super have released two new integrations designed to dramatically reduce the time it takes users to set up an SMSF.

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The new integration will mean practitioners will not have to manually set up new funds in Class if they order their SMSF establishment documentation through Topdocs. The new fund will be instantly available in Class Super, and will contain all of the fund, member and trustee details.

In addition to this functionality, Class Super users will also be able to populate their document order forms with the fund information already stored in Class Super.

Topdocs director Michael Spakman said Topdocs is also finalising a new integration for Xero users, meaning they too will be able to prepopulate their company, trust and SMSF orders with client information stored in Xero.

“These integrations have been developed to reduce the time it takes advisers to set up new structures, freeing up their time to focus on more important things, such as the provision of client advice,” said Mr Spakman.

Class Super CEO Kevin Bungard added that the new integrations will be a boost to practitioners’ efficiency.

"Topdocs are a leader in integrated SMSF services - they understand the workflow and the efficiency required for dealing with SMSFs in bulk. The latest release from Topdocs extends that same efficiency and expertise to setting up new SMSFs," he said.

Topdocs has similar exisiting integrations with BGL and Macquarie.

Getting the right binding death benefit nomination for your client

Date: 4 February 2015

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There are various ways trustees can approach binding death benefit nominations, with different levels of complexity offering different outcomes.

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Along with pension reversionary nominations, binding death benefit nominations (BDBNs) are the most common means by which a member will allocate the distribution of their SMSF death benefits.

Whilst many deeds enable the completion of a basic, pro-forma BDBN, many strategically provisioned deeds will enable complex estate planning strategies to be implemented via a BDBN.

In this article we will examine the different kinds of BDBNs available to members of SMSFs.

Emphasis must be placed on the fact that the trust deed for the fund must enable the type of BDBN outlined in order for the member to be able to complete one.

A basic BDBN

A basic BDBN, commonly found as the default document in an SMSF deed, provides little opportunity for estate planning strategies other than to nominate one or more individuals to receive a benefit.

A basic BDBN is usually the only option available for members of public offer funds.

The basic BDBN does not cater for the situation where a beneficiary predeceases the member, nor does it enable the member to leave specific assets to a beneficiary.

The basic BDBN, therefore, is very limiting from a planning perspective.

Standard BDBNs

A standard BDBN is more advanced than the basic, enabling not only for the member to nominate one or more beneficiaries to receive their death benefits, but also catering for the situation where a beneficiary predeceases the member.

Whilst a standard BDBN contains provision for multiple layers of beneficiaries, it does not provide for the allocation of specific assets to beneficiaries.

Complex BDBNs

A complex BDBN provides for a greater range of eventualities, as well as different layers of beneficiaries.

A complex BDBN can cater for:

  • the provision of benefits to multiple beneficiaries
  • the allocation of benefits to an alternate beneficiary, if one or more beneficiaries predecease the member
  • the allocation of specific assets to beneficiaries

Which is best?

Which BDBN best suits your client will depend on their independent circumstances. For some, a basic BDBN may be adequate – for others, a complex BDBN may be required.

So what can a complex BDBN provide for?

The following are some examples of how a complex BDBN can enable advanced estate planning strategies for members of an SMSF.

Example # 1 - Eventualities

Bethany and Oliver have been married for 30 years. Bethany has a child, Darren, from a prior relationship.

Although Darren is a stepson of Oliver, Oliver considers him to be his son, but there is a possibility that Darren may not be a SIS dependant of Oliver at the time of Oliver’s death.

If Bethany predeceases Oliver, Darren may need to prove financial dependency to be deemed a dependant of Oliver.

If he is not a dependant at that time, a BDBN in favour of Darren will be invalid.

So as to cover the various eventualities, Oliver prepares a BDBN in which he directs the benefits in the event of his death to pass:

  • firstly to Bethany
  • secondly to Darren, if Bethany predeceases Oliver, with a condition that the benefit is only to be passed to Darren if he is a SIS dependent at the time
  • thirdly to Oliver’s legal personal representative (estate)

By constructing his BDBN in such a way, Oliver has covered a range of possibilities, such as:

  • if Bethany survives Oliver, the benefits will pass to her
  • if Bethany predeceases Oliver, the benefits will either:
  • pass to Darren if he is a SIS dependant of Oliver at that time
  • be dealt with under the third level if Darren is not a SIS dependent; and
  • in that event, the benefits will pass to Oliver's estate and then, presumably, to Darren in accordance with the instructions contained in Oliver's will.

In such a scenario, the appointment of a death benefit guardian could prove very important as a final safeguard, particularly if the SMSF contains other members/trustees.

Example # 2 - Range of beneficiaries
Elizabeth, who has an SMSF which holds a number of ‘collectable’ assets, prepares a BDBN which will enable her to direct:

  • specific assets to certain beneficiaries
  • the remainder of her SMSF to a different beneficiary, with further provisions in certain circumstances

In her BDBN, Elizabeth directs:

  • her Van Gogh 'Starry Night' to her daughter Julianne
  • her 1933 Gold Double Eagle to her son Wayne
  • the remainder of her SMSF to her partner Nicholas with a proviso:
  • if Nicholas has predeceased her, or is no longer her partner: the benefits will pass to Julianne and Wayne in equal proportions.

Conclusion

Estate planning in an SMSF, using a BDBN does not merely need to be the nomination of a single ‘layer’ of beneficiaries.

Multiple layers, specific terms and the gifting of specific assets can be attended to utilising a range of BDBN options available, provided the trust deed permits.

Michael Harkin, national manager, training and advice, Topdocs

ATO Cold Calling SMSF Trustees to test capacity

Date: 5 December 2014

As featured in Financial Standard

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The Australian Taxation Office is calling self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustees to test their fund knowledge and restricting their ability to operate the fund if they fail.

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Legal document provider Topdocs said in a technical article that "examples have arisen where the ATO has refused to issue the [Australian business number] ABN because at least one director or trustee failed the test."

Topdocs national manager of training and advice Michael Harkin told Financial Standard that "a number of different accounting and financial planning firms have had instances where one of the spouses did pass the test, and the other didn't."

He said that on these occasions, the ATO has registered an ABN for the fund, but not placed the 'failed' director or trustee as a member of the fund in the ATO business portal.

"As this portal is the access point for super funds to determine if an individual is a member of the fund for the purposes of rolling over their superannuation benefits, this in turn has restricted the member's ability to rollover their benefits into the SMSF," Harkin said in the article.

ATO officials would not respond to specific questions about this measure, but a spokesperson said l that "the ATO contacts SMSF trustees in a number of situations and has been doing so for some time now, the first was in 2010."

The spokesperson said that it contacts trustees when data indicates that an SMSF is being established "for the purpose of obtaining illegal early access to superannuation benefits."

Newly-registered funds that have not met their lodgement obligation in the first year are also likely to receive a call from the regulator, as well as those whose auditor lodges a contravention report with the ATO.

"We call these trustees to discuss with them what they are planning to do and ensure they understand the rules and obligations they must comply with in having an SMSF," the ATO said.

"There are also other scenarios across the ATO's SMSF compliance work where we identify a need to call a trustee to discuss certain matters," the spokesperson said.

Harkin recommended that advisers educate SMSF trustees: "Education of potential trustees is vital when establishing an SMSF, not only to ensure they pass the ATO test but so they understand their ongoing compliance obligations,"

What a difference an LPR makes

Date: December 2014

As featured in Public Accountant

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Members of SMSF can deal with their illness, ageing or accident if they put in place a Legal Personal Representative (LPR).

At some point, illness, ageing or accident may incapacitate one or more members of an SMSF. As a result, they may lost the capability to manage their role as trustee. Preparing for this eventuality well in advance will enable membership to continue, regardless of capacity.

Streamlined estate planning solution keeps advisers in control

Date: 17 November 2014

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Leading documentation provider Topdocs has released a new estate planning solution for advisers that streamlines the process of obtaining estate planning advice and documentation, and most importantly, keeps the adviser at the heart of the client's financial affairs.

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Developed to enable advisers to provide a more holistic service to their clients with respect to estate planning, the new solution allows financial advisers to be actively involved in the estate planning process, without assuming the legal risk of providing legal advice and documentation.

"Our feedback has been that advisers are fed up with having to outsource estate planning to their clients' solicitors, as they lose a degree of control over the process, and often can result in clients not following through with actually seeing their solicitor," says Topdocs Director Michael Spakman.

"This in turn often leaves clients without adequate estate planning documentation - the worst possible outcome."

The new Topdocs' solution assists advisers from start to finish and includes free marketing collateral to enable advisers to engage with their clients, an online estate planning 'fact find' to easily submit client information, and access to personal meetings with Topdocs Legal lawyers in person and via video conferencing.

All legal advice and documentation is provided by Topdocs' associated legal practice, Topdocs Legal.

At the centre of the Topdocs' estate planning process is the online Client Fact Find which enables advisers to enter pertinent client information to receive an obligation free quote on the required Will and other documentation.

Says Mr Spakman: "Estate Planning is a complex area, and often, advisers get bogged down in pages and pages of forms to complete, simply to get an idea of what their client needs to have prepared. Our online Client Fact Find is a quick and easy form that takes just minutes to complete, and once we receive it, a lawyer calls the adviser directly to discuss their client's needs.

"This means the adviser can be actively involved in the estate planning process, but at the same time, distance themselves from the legal risk of providing the documents and advice, which is assumed by Topdocs Legal."

Topdocs will be showcasing their new estate planning solution at the FPA Professionals Congress held in Adelaide from November 18 - 21.

Topdocs launches new estate planning tool

Date: 17 November 2014

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SMSF documentation provider Topdocs has developed an estate planning tool which it says enables advisers to be involved with the estate planning process without assuming any of the legal risk.

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Topdocs director Michael Spakman said the feedback received from advisers shows they are unhappy having to outsource estate planning to their client’s solicitors.

“It means they lose a degree of control over the process, and often, it can result in the client not following through to actually see the solicitor,” said Mr Spakman.

“This in turn often leaves the client without adequate estate planning documentation in place, which is the worst possible outcome,” he said.

All legal advice and documentation generated through the “solution” is provided by Topdocs' associated legal practice, Topdocs Legal, which assumes the legal risk.

Topdocs said the tool includes an online client fact find where the adviser enters client information to receive a quote on the required will and other documentation.

Mr Spakman said once the client fact find is completed, a lawyer calls the adviser directly to discuss their client’s needs.

“Estate planning is a complex area, and often, advisers get bogged down in pages and pages of forms to complete, just to get an idea of what their client needs to have prepared,” he said.

Topdocs launches estate planning product

Date: 14 November 2014

As featured in IFA - Independent financial adviser

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Tech firm Topdocs has released a new estate planning offering for financial advisers which it says will simplify the process of giving advice and filing documentation.

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Topdocs said the new "solution" will assist advisers throughout the estate planning process and will include an “online estate planning fact find” and provide access to personal meetings with its lawyers.

“Our feedback has been that many advisers are fed up with having to outsource estate planning to their client’s solicitors, as it means they lose a degree of control over the process,” Topdocs director Michael Spakman said.

“This in turn often leaves the client without adequate estate planning documentation in place, which is the worst possible outcome,” he said.

“Our goal in developing this solution was to ensure advisers could be actively involved in the estate planning process, without assuming any of the legal risk associated with providing estate planning documentation and advice."

Mr Spakman pointed out that estate planning is a “complex area” and advisers often get “bogged down” in pages and pages of forms to complete in order to understand what their clients need to have prepared.

“Our online Client Fact Find is a quick and easy form that only takes minutes to complete, and once we receive it, a lawyer calls the adviser directly to discuss their client’s needs,” Mr Spakman said.

“This means the adviser can actively be involved in the estate planning process, but at the same time, distance themselves from the legal risk of providing the documents and advice, which is assumed by Topdocs Legal,” he said.

The technology firm added it will be showcasing its new estate planning solution at the upcoming FPA Professionals Congress in Adelaide.

Evidence - the key to proving interdependency

Date: October 2014

As featured in Financial Standard Magazine

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There is a risk that individuals in interdependency relationships may not receive SMSF death benefits if they are unable to prove the nature of their relationships...

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Topdocs partners with Class Super, BGL

Date: 27 October 2014

As featured in SMS Magazine

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SMSF documentation provider Topdocs has partnered with Class Super and BGL to improve process efficiency for advisers when updating client SMSF deeds.

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Ensuring SMSF deeds were up to date was critical as old deeds could put clients at risk of administrative penalties or place their SMSF death benefits in jeopardy, Topdocs director Michael Spakman said.

However, current processes for updating deeds en masse can be extremely time consuming and cause many advisers to choose to delay the transition process.

In partnership with Class Super and BGL, Topdocs has developed unique integrations to streamline processes for updating clients’ deeds, making the process quick and easy.

“These integrations enable advisers to update their clients’ SMSF deeds using the data already stored in their accounting system, meaning they don’t have to complete order forms, substantially reducing the time involved,” Spakman said.

“Breaking down the ‘time burden’ of the deed update process via these integrations has seen a substantial increase in adviser willingness to update their clients’ trust deeds.”

The introduction of the Simpler Super legislation in 2007 led to many advisers updating SMSF deeds, but a significant number of deeds had not been updated since, he said.

“While there hasn’t been a single piece of legislative change to equal the 2007 legislation, a raft of important legislative and regulator changes have occurred during this period which have now culminated in the need to update.”

Those changes include amendments to the limited recourse borrowing arrangement legislation, new limitations on the types of insurance cover available to members, the ability to refund excess contributions and changes to concessional and non-concessional contribution caps, he said.

“Out-of-date provisions guiding the actions of trustees on any of these matters could result in significantly adverse effects on members’ benefits and with the recent introduction of administrative fines for SMSF trustees, potential monetary penalties.”

Evolving SMSF estate planning strategies had also increased the risk of members with older deeds not having their death benefits paid as they intended, he said.

“One of the major provisions not covered in older trust deeds are non-lapsing binding death benefit nominations, meaning that many SMSF members will have inadvertently created a three-year lapsing nomination,” he said.

“The implication of this is that many SMSF members may already have an invalid nomination or may die without a valid nomination if three years have passed since it was last updated.”

Key changes drive need to update SMSF deeds

Date: 23 October 2014

As featured in Professional Planner

Link to featured article

Old SMSF trust deeds may be putting your clients at risk of administrative penalties, or worse, placing their SMSF death benefits in jeopardy, says Topdocs Director Michael Spakman.

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Topdocs is one of Australia's leading providers of quality SMSF, company, trust and estate planning documentation to accountants, financial advisers, lawyers, SMSF administrators and the general public.

"With the introduction of the Simpler Super legislation in 2007, a significant number of deeds were updated by advisers, but most have not been updated since. Whilst there hasn't been a single piece of legislative change to equal the 2007 legislation, a raft of important legislative and regulator changes have occurred during this period which have now culminated in the need to update."

Mr Spakman cites amendments to the limited recourse borrowing arrangement legislation, new limitations on the types of insurance cover available to members, the ability to refund excess contributions and changes to concessional and non-concessional contribution caps as major examples.

"Out of date provisions guiding the actions of trustees on any of these matters could result in significantly adverse effects on members' benefits and with the recent introduction of administrative fines for SMSF trustees, potential monetary penalties," he says.

In addition to these changes, evolving SMSF estate planning strategies have heightened the risk of members with older deeds not having their death benefits paid as they intended.

"One of the major provisions not covered in older trust deeds are non-lapsing Binding Death Benefit Nominations (BDBNs), meaning that many SMSF members will have inadvertently created three-year lapsing nominations. The implication of this is that many SMSF members may already have an invalid nomination or may die without a valid nomination if three years have passed since it was last updated.

"In this instance, the remaining trustees will have the power to distribute the member's death benefits, and the manner in which they do so, may be inconsistent with the member's intentions."

The role of a deceased SMSF member's legal personal representative (LPR) has also changed over time, with the acknowledgement that their role in protecting a member's death benefits may be moot due to time taken to receive probate.

"Because an LPR cannot be appointed until probate is granted, a time delay of three months or more is not uncommon, during which time the remaining trustees could have distributed the death benefits in whatever manner they choose.

"While many older deeds continue to use the LPR as a safeguard for a deceased member, new alternatives such as a 'death benefit guardian'* better protect the interests of SMSF members," says Mr Spakman.

While ensuring that SMSF deeds are up to date is critical, the process for updating deeds en masse can be enormously time-consuming, with many advisers putting off the process due to the time involved in ordering a large number of documents simultaneously.

To overcome this, Topdocs has developed unique integrations with leading software providers, Class Super and BGL, to make the process of updating clients' deeds quick and easy.

"These integrations enable advisers to update their clients' SMSF deeds using the data already stored in their accounting system, meaning they don't have to complete order forms, substantially reducing the time involved.

"Breaking down the 'time burden' of the deed update process via these integrations has seen a substantial increase in adviser willingness to update their clients' trust deeds," he says.

*A provision unique to Topdocs' deeds, a death benefit guardian is a person appointed during the member's lifetime, who steps in immediately to protect the member's interests on their death, eliminating the timing issue associated with LPRs.

Old trust deeds create SMSF penalty risk

Date: 23 October 2014

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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Out-of-date SMSF trust deeds may be putting SMSF trustees at risk of administrative penalties or placing their SMSF death benefits “in jeopardy”, according to Topdocs.

There has been a raft of legislative and regulatory changes that have occurred in the years since the Simpler Super legislation was introduced in 2007, said Topdocs director Michael Spakman.

Read more

These changes include amendments to limited recourse borrowing arrangements legislation, limitations on the type of insurance cover available to super members, and changes to concessional and non-concessional contribution caps.

“With the introduction of the Simpler Super legislation in 2007, a significant number of deeds were updated by advisers, but most have not updated their client’s deed since,” Mr Spakman said.

“Out-of-date provisions guiding the actions of trustees on any of these matters could result in significantly adverse effects on members’ benefits, and with the recent introduction of administrative fines for SMSF trustees, potential monetary penalties.”

Mr Spakman also noted that one of the provisions not covered in older trust deeds is non-lapsing binding death benefit nominations, meaning that some SMSF members may have inadvertently created three-year lapsing nominations.

“The implication of this is that many SMSF members may either already have an invalid nomination, or may die without a valid nomination if three years has passed since it was last updated,” Mr Spakman said.

“In this instance, the remaining trustees will have the power to distribute the member’s death benefits, and the manner in which they do so may be inconsistent with the member’s intentions.”

The role of the legal personal representative (LPR) of a deceased SMSF member has also changed, Mr Spakman said, with the acknowledgement now that the role of the LPR in protecting a member’s death benefits may be moot due to time taken to receive probate.

As an LPR cannot be appointed until probate is granted, a time delay of three months or more is not uncommon, he added, during which time the remaining trustees could have distributed the death benefits in whichever way they choose.

“Many older deeds use the LPR as a safeguard for a deceased member, but new alternatives such as a death benefit guardian, better protect the interests of the members of SMSFs,” said Mr Spakman.

“A death benefit guardian is a person appointed during the member’s lifetime who steps in immediately to protect the member’s interests on their death, therefore eliminating the timing issue associated with legal personal representatives.”

SMSF documentation must reflect legislative change

Date: 22 October 2014

As featured in SMSF Essentials

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Amendments to the limited recourse borrowing arrangements legislation, new limitations on the types of insurance cover available to members and the ability to refund excess contributions are issues that need to be reflected in updated Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) documentation.

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That is the analysis of specialist company Topdocs, with director, Michael Spakman claiming out of date provisions guiding the actions of trustees on any of such matters could result in significantly adverse impacts.

Spakman pointed to those impacts including the recent introduction of administrative fines for SMSF trustees.

"With the introduction of the Simpler Super legislation in 2007, a significant number of deeds were updated by advisers, but most have not been updated since," he said.

"Whilst there hasn't been a single piece of legislative change to equal the 2007 legislation, a raft of important legislative and regulatory changes have occurred during this period which have now culminated in the need to update," Spakman said.

Handling and preparing for loss of capacity

Date: September 2014

As featured in SMSF Adviser Magazine

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There are key steps practitioners should recommend their clients take to ensure their funds continue despite a member’s diminished capacity.

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Seven Key Reasons to have a Corporate SMSF Trustee

Date: 17 September 2014

As featured in SMSF Essentials

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While setting up a SMSF with individual trustees may save some dollars in the short-term, the longer term benefits of using a corporate trustee far out-weigh these savings, writes Michael Harkin.

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We all know that individuals can be fee sensitive, and a typical example of this is the desire to establish a self managed super fund with individual trustees. But while this may create a small saving up front, the cost benefits of having a corporate trustee more than compensates these initial savings.

The following are seven key reasons why a corporate trustee within a SMSF is a must.

1. Succession planning following the death of a member

A company is a continuing entity. Consequently, having a corporate trustee ensures control of the SMSF is certain - an especially important factor when a member dies. With a two-member fund, having a corporate trustee in place cuts out the need to appoint a second individual trustee, ensuring control of the fund remains with the surviving fund member.

2. Trustee litigation exposure

Individuals acting as trustees of a SMSF are jointly and severally liable for any actions taken against the fund. Should litigation against the fund exceed the assets held in the name of the trustees, the personal assets of the individuals may be at risk.

Companies on the other hand, have limited liability. This generally ensures litigation against the fund is limited to the:

  • Assets held in the SMSF; and
  • Assets held in the name of the company itself.

3. Administrative burden associated with membership changes

One of the key benefits of a SMSF is its fluidity; that is allowing multiple generations of a family to come and go. However, this raises a time consuming and costly administration problem for funds with individual trustees because the law requires assets to be held in the names of all of the trustees.

Consequently, whenever a new trustee is appointed to the fund, or an existing trustee leaves the fund, the fund is required to notify all relevant registries and offices to change the name or names under which the assets of the SMSF are registered.

In addition, legal advice with regards the procedures to remove/appoint trustees and members must also be sought.

By contrast, when a member joins a SMSF with a corporate trustee, the corporate trustee itself does not change, only the directorship. Assets therefore are still held in the name of the company - meaning no change is required.

4. Lump sum payments

When it comes to paying benefits, SMSFs with individual trustees must ideally aim to pay benefits in the form of pensions and in order for the fund to pay a lump sum benefit compliantly, the member receiving the benefit must provide a written request to the trustees for the payment to be made as a lump sum benefit.

An SMSF with a corporate trustee on the other hand can pay benefits either as a lump sum or a pension.

5. LBRA borrowing requirements

Should a SMSF borrow to acquire an asset under the limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA) provisions, many of banks lending to SMSFs will require the fund to have a corporate trustee to maximise the loan to value ratio.

Therefore, a SMSF established with individual trustees may need to go through the process of appointing a corporate trustee and, following that, converting the assets owned by the SMSF into the name of the new trustee should the fund enter into a LRBA.

6. SMSF administrative penalties

Parliament recently passed legislation which was introduced to enable the ATO to apply monetary penalties to SMSF trustees in the event of certain breaches of the SIS Act.

Where the ATO applies monetary penalties for these breaches, each individual trustee may be liable for “administrative” penalties (i.e. 3 trustees = 3 x penalties).

However, where the fund has a corporate trustee, this is levied once on the company.

7. Sole member funds

If a SMSF with individual trustees has a sole member, the SIS Act requires that the SMSF have a second individual trustee, meaning the sole member will have to relinquish some control over the fund to another person.

Alternatively, the SIS Act provides that a sole member SMSF can have a corporate trustee with either one or two directors, one of which must be the member. In this case a sole member can assume total control over the SMSF by appointing themselves as the sole director of the corporate trustee.

A sobering thought - the vast majority of SMSFs are established as two member funds, predominantly with husband and wife as the members. As a result, the members at this stage are not concerned with issues relevant to single member funds. However, through either death or divorce, those SMSFs are likely to become single member funds at some point in the future.

Michael Harkin is National Manager, Training and Advice, at Topdocs.

Top service providers revealed in SMSF Awards 2014

Date: 3 July 2014

As featured in SMSF Adviser

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Australia’s top self-managed super fund service providers have been revealed in the inaugural SMSF Awards 2014.

The SMSF Awards, an initiative of SMSF Adviser, create a benchmark for success in the rapidly growing SMSF sector. The awards serve as an important mechanism for Australian SMSF professionals and trustees to measure SMSF services and product providers.

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Institutions across the country were assessed across a range of categories, including product, service, support and satisfaction.

Global financial powerhouses through to small, specialised organisations won recognition across 13 award categories.

Macquarie and Macquarie Investment Management were the stand-out performers, winning five award categories including Fixed Income Provider, Australian Equities Provider, SMSF Term Deposit Provider, Investment Platform Provider and SMSF Loan Provider.

Alongside Macquarie’s strong performance, other award winners included Topdocs for SMSF Deed Provider; Multiport for SMSF Administrator; and ASF Audits for SMSF Audit Provider.

SMSFs continue to be the fastest growing segment in the financial services sector, with the latest Australian Taxation Office statistics showing that there are now over half a million self-directed funds.

According to the publisher of SMSF Adviser, Russell Stephenson, there was a 26.6 per cent growth in SMSF members over the last four year period – which is a massive gain.

“Considering this rapid acceleration the need to service the needs of trustees with timely, accurate and honest assessments of industry service providers and product manufactures has never been more timely.

“The SMSF Awards offer a unique insight into the sentiments of SMSF professionals – planners, advisers, accountants and other participants. They serve as an important benchmarking metric and are an important accolade for recognising success in this bourgeoning sector.”

A robust process was employed to determine the award categories, nominees, survey methodology and winners. Over 760 professionals responded to a detailed survey conducted in April 2014.

As part of the research process, SMSF Adviser worked with an advisory board comprising four leading, client-facing SMSF practitioners: Jenny Brown, Director, JBS Financial Strategists; Deborah Kent, Director, Integra Financial Services; Matthew Kidd, Managing Director, Omniwealth; and Tim Mackay, Principal, Quantum Financial.

The research methodology was designed, managed and assessed by Dr Florence Lau, Sterling Publishing’s in-house research analyst.

Topdocs aids access to Macquarie CMA applications

Date: 20 February 2014

As featured in SMSF Adviser

Date: 19 February 2014

As featured in IFA

Technology firm Topdocs has launched an online portal that allows financial advisers to set up SMSFs and apply for Macquarie cash management accounts.

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With one in four SMSF trustees currently using Macquarie’s Cash Management Account (CMA), Topdocs has facilitated the service to remove the need for advisers to log in and out of separate websites, streamlining the services.

“We realised that providing advisers with the capability to apply for this account while setting up an SMSF would be a natural step towards developing greater industry efficiencies,” said Topdocs director and head of technology Michael Spakman.

“We know that meeting the needs of SMSFs is very important to advisers and we have an ongoing focus on reducing the time it takes them to establish a Macquarie CMA account for their clients," said Macquarie Banking and Financial Services head of cash product Peter Forrest.

"Advisers are looking for connectivity between products and their office, and this initiative further demonstrates our commitment to putting this into practice,” said Mr Forrest.

Topdocs further simplifies cash account applications for SMSFs

Date: 18 February 2014

As featured in Professional Planner

Financial advisers will be able to set up a self-managed super fund and apply electronically for a Macquarie Cash Management Account (Macquarie CMA) via the Topdocs' Online Document Portal using just one online form.

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This not only removes the need for the adviser to log in and out of two separate websites to initiate a Macquarie CMA application for an SMSF client, but will enable the application to be pre-populated with client data, cutting out unnecessary double-entry.

To further streamline the application process, Macquarie's electronic ID verification technology will validate SMSF trustee details electronically and enable advisers to receive their clients' Macquarie CMA account numbers by email once the application has been submitted via Topdocs.

Accountants will also benefit from the initiative. Non-AFSL holders will be able to initiate an expression of interest with Macquarie for a CMA on behalf of their clients via Topdocs.

Topdocs' Director and Head of Technology, Michael Spakman, says the initiative was driven by the desire to provide the SMSF industry with simple, efficient solutions that draw together the services of providers regularly used by the industry.

"With one in four SMSFs in Australia currently using Macquarie's CMA [ according toMacquarie Bank Limited data and an ATO Self Managed Super Fund Statistical Report],we realised that providing advisers with the capability to apply for this account while setting up an SMSF would be a natural step towards developing greater industry efficiencies."

Macquarie Banking and Financial Services Head of Cash Product, Peter Forrest, said, "We know that meeting the needs of SMSFs is very important to advisers and we have an ongoing focus on reducing the time it takes them to establish a Macquarie CMA account for their clients. Advisers are looking for connectivity between products and their office, and this initiative further demonstrates our commitment to putting this into practice."

Topdocs will be demonstrating the new integration at the SMSF Professionals' Association of Australia's (SPAA) National Conference which takes place at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre from 19-21 February.

To do or not to do - carry insurance in your SMSF?

Date: 17 July 2013

As featured in Wealth Professional

As featured in Professional Planner

This is the dilemma facing self-managed superfund trustees following recent amendments to SMSF investment strategy requirements in the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations.

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SMSF trustees are now required when reviewing their SMSF investment strategy to “consider” whether or not their fund should carry insurance cover for members. The cover referred to includes life, total and permanent disability insurance and income protection. Failure to do so would be in breach of superannuation legislative requirements and could result in the fund being penalised by the ATO.

The SIS amendment was driven by concerns that SMSF members don’t have sufficient insurance cover. Having transferred from large funds where automatic cover was generally held, there is concern that the cover is ‘lost’ in the transfer process.

It is estimated that less than 20% of funds carry insurance cover for their members. This does not include insurance cover held by members individually.

To do or not to do …..

According to National Manager, Training and Advice, for Topdocs, Michael Harkin, there is no right or wrong answer to the question. “Rather it’s about what suits individual circumstances. In some situations having insurance within the fund is preferable while in other situations, outside would be a better option.”

However, he says, the benefits of having it inside super far outweigh the negatives.

“One of the biggest advantages is providing members with cash-flow. Because insurance premiums can be paid out of SMSF income, members are seldom out of pocket. This is especially advantageous to those who need all their after-tax income to meet their day to day living requirements,” he says.

Another key advantage is that insurance pay-outs and proceeds are for the most part tax effective.

“Where life insurance is concerned, if you have a spouse or tax dependants – that is a dependent under the age of 18 - insurance can be paid as a lump sum tax free. On the flip side, if the insurance payout goes to beneficiaries who are over the age of 18 and not financially dependent on you, they will be slugged with a 32% tax bill, including a Medicare levy of 2%.”

Having total disablement (disability) insurance inside super, means that all proceeds are sitting in a tax sheltered environment and holders will have an income for life should they suffer permanent disability.

“However, a word of warning: members with disability insurance that stipulates ‘own occupation’ may not qualify for a pay-out.

“Additionally, from 1 July 2014, new policies of ‘own occupation’ disability insurance will not be permitted for super funds.”

Mr Harkin says it is also not advisable carrying trauma insurance in an SMSF.

“Trauma insurance should be kept outside super because super funds can’t pay trauma benefits unless members have met a condition of release – that is, they can legally access their accumulated super.

“In any event, new policies for trauma insurance will also not be permitted for super funds from 1 July 2014.”


For more media information, please contact:

Wendy Parker, Parker Public Relations
Phone: 0422 694 503

Which documents are critical to SMSF pension compliance?

Date: 18 April 2013

As featured in Financial Standard

As featured in Money Management

Michael Harkin, National Manager - Training and Advice, for Topdocs, provides clarity around an issue that has long had practitioners in the SMSF industry at odds.

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WHILE SMSF pension compliance is dependent on multiple factors - such as ensuring the minimum pension is paid each year and the amount paid does not exceed the maximum permitted – having the right documents on hand at the commencement of the income stream is just as important.

Not having them, could mean the recipient was not entitled to payments which would impact adversely on the taxable income of both the fund and the individual in question.

Essentially five key documents are required:

TRUST DEED

This is the main document outlining the rules which govern the operation of the SMSF.

In preparation for a member commencing an income stream, the SMSF trust deed must be reviewed to ensure the trustee has the authority to start paying a pension and that the rules of the deed meet superannuation regulation requirements.

Some advisers are of the belief that having the detailed pension authority in the trust deed is not necessary and that the rules set down in superannuation legislation provide this. However, the wiser view is to review the deed and ensure that this authority is in fact contained in the deed.

MEMBER APPLICATION

The member must formally request that the trustee pay an income stream from the SMSF.

This written application is required to initiate the process. The application can also nominate a reversionary pensioner - the person who will receive the income stream in the event of the member dying.

TRUSTEE RESOLUTION

These are the minutes of the meeting involving either the fund trustees or the directors of the corporate trustee. The meeting should consider:

  • Whether the member is permitted to access his or her superannuation (i.e. has met a ‘condition of release’)
  • The fund 's ability to make the payments
  • Details of the type of pension
  • Commencement date of the income stream
  • The amount of member benefits funding the pension
  • A review of the fund investment strategy.

Trustee resolutions should also formally accept the reversionary pension nomination. This will ensure there are no problems in this regard at a later date.

PENSION AGREEMENT

This sets out the terms of the pension, legislative restrictions and information such as the regularity of payments, minimum and maximum payment amounts and additional details such as treatment of the pension amount in the event of the recipient dying.

PRODUCT DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

When it comes to commencing payment of an income stream, most disagreement revolves around the need for a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

In a nutshell, a PDS provides superannuation fund members with details about the benefits and the features and rules of the income stream. Under the Corporations Law all new SMSF members should receive a PDS on or before becoming a fund member. This is necessary because they will be receiving a ‘superannuation interest’ at that time of joining up. On commencing an income stream, they once again receive this interest.

Some advisers are of the view a PDS is not required if the trustee believes the member is across all the information contained in the document. This has led some to suggest the document does not need to be issued.

However, the problem with this is that advisers and trustees could breach provisions of the Corporations Law if it was later determined that the member, despite also being a trustee, was not fully across all the required information.

For the sake of an extra document, the compliance certainty which a PDS provides should overcome any suggestion or recommendation that it is unnecessary.


For more media information, please contact:

Wendy Parker, Parker Public Relations
Phone: 0422 694 503

Revolutionary deed updating system

14 February 2013

As featured in Money Management

Determined to speed up and simplify the time-consuming and onerous task of updating SMSF deeds, one of Australia’s leading providers of SMSF, company and trust documents, Topdocs, has developed a solution which enables the process to be completed in a tenth of the time it once took.

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Available via the Topdocs’ document portal, the Topdocs SMSF Deed Update system not only enables accountants, financial planners and SMSF administrators to order deed updates at the click of a button, it also allows them to house all client deeds conveniently in one central location – in the system itself.

In addition, future deed updates are provided at significantly reduced rates – representing substantial on-going savings.

According to Topdocs’ managing director, Jake Spakman, the introduction of the Topdocs SMSF Deed Update system was driven by the desire to help financial services’ professionals reduce the administrative burden of managing SMSF deed updates following legislative and rule changes.

“Much of the burden stemmed from completing order forms and collating deeds manually which is often time consuming and unproductive. What the new update system does is eliminate those steps and totally automate the process, reducing the time required to complete an update to just the click of a button.”

Another unique feature of the Topdocs SMSF Deed Update system is the flexibility to choose between updating deeds automatically each year or updating whenever required, providing financial services professionals and their clients with complete control over when their funds are updated.

Says Mr Spakman: “This flexibility also extends to how financial planners, accountants and financial planners would like delivery of the deed update. They can elect to have the deed update documentation emailed or professionally printed, bound and delivered by express post.

“Alternatively, they can have it emailed or delivered directly to their clients. The choice is theirs.”

The new system further reduces unnecessary administration by listing the details of every fund created by Topdocs into a single, online location, providing professionals with easy access to and management of client funds. Funds created by other suppliers can be easily “varied” or converted to Topdocs’ governing rules using the system’s easy-to-use conversion tools. Bulk conversion has also been significantly simplified.

According to Mr Spakman, having all clients’ funds listed in a single location helps streamline and control the auditing process. “Auditors can be given special access rights to the system so they only see the information they need, protecting the privacy of clients. This in turn simplifies the process to review and sign off on deeds, minimising auditing costs.”

  • To access the Topdocs SMSF Deed Update system, brand new users should go to the Topdocs’ website at /, register in the My Document Portal at the top of the page and follow the prompts. New clients will be charged to convert their clients across to the Topdocs SMSF Deed Update system but once done, they will enjoy the same reduced SMSF deed update rates as existing clients.

For more media information, please contact:

Wendy Parker, Parker Public Relations Jake Spakman, Topdocs
Phone: 0422 694 503 Phone: 1300 659 242

Financial planners – key beneficiaries of systems’ integration

7 December 2012

As featured in Money Management

THE decision by one of Australia’s leading providers of SMSF, company and trust documents, Topdocs, to integrate its document automation system with wealth management software, XPLAN, will dramatically simplify the document ordering process and enhance document accuracy.

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It will enable financial planners to purchase, access, complete and store electronic self-managed super fund, company trust and pension documents in the one system.

It will also enable documents to be pre-populated with client information stored in XPLAN’s client management module, eliminating cumbersome data entry and enhancing compliance requirements.

Developed by IRESS, XPLAN is Australia's leading financial planning software for wealth management professionals.

IRESS is the principal supplier of share market and wealth management systems with over 650 staff in 14 offices worldwide including Australia, Asia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The Lonsdale Financial Group will be the first dealer group in Australia to roll out the integrated Topdocs/XPLAN system to its network of over 300 advisers across Australia early in the New Year.

According to Topdocs’ managing director, Jake Spakman, the decision to integrate its document automation system with XPLAN, was driven by the desire to help financial planners cut the administrative burden of ordering and completing documents.

“We’re always looking for new ways to improve the user experience. By integrating our system with XPLAN, financial planners can now order their documents from within XPLAN, saving up to 20 minutes each time by not having to rekey client data.”

IRESS Executive Product Manager for Wealth Management, Aaron Knowles, says the Topdocs/XPLAN integration is another way in which IRESS can help financial planners improve business efficiency.

“Our customers rely heavily on the accuracy of client data for reporting, data-mining, advice creation and practice management, so it makes sense that we leverage that data directly into the Topdocs’ documents, saving time and avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort.”

Progressive dealer group, Lonsdale Financial Group has been quick to recognize the value of the integrated system.

Says Lonsdale CEO, Mark Stephen: “We’re continuously searching for smart initiatives that benefit both our associates and their clients. The Topdocs/XPLAN systems’ integration is undoubtedly one of those and will result in significant benefits in terms of improved accuracy and less time spent on administration.”

The integration is available in Version 2.3 of XPLAN and upwards of that.


For more media information, please contact:

Wendy Parker, Parker Public Relations Jake Spakman, Topdocs
Phone: 0422 694 503 Phone: 1300 659 242

Topdocs warns on death benefit in SMSFs

Date: 4 July 2012

As featured in Money Management

Specialist superannuation documentation provider Topdocs has pointed to the need for self-managed superannuation fund(SMSF) trustees to get their trustee deed documentation in order to avoid potential death benefit disputes.

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Topdocs' national manager, training and advice, Michael Harkin has pointed to SMSFs as being likely to experience as many issues around death benefit disputes as Australian Prudential Regulation Authority regulated funds, but says it is unlikely this is being noticed because they are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.

"Although there is no body, below the level of the Supreme Court, for hearing complaints about SMSF trustee decisions, from the feedback and commentary we're receiving from the industry, both SMSF and superannuation members in general have a very poor understanding of what will happen to their super should they die, and misconceptions abound," he claimed.

"Many believe their super benefits will automatically pass to their estate or that the executor of their will can assume control of their super or that their fund trustee will automatically divide their benefits among their parents," Harkin said.

"Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth."

He said that unless provided with specific directions, superannuation trustees will make the decision, with benefits going to those most in need.

"Unfortunately, these may not necessarily be the nearest and dearest, but could well be people the deceased has fallen out with or has ceased to have a relationship with," Harkin said.

However, he said SMSF members were in the enviable position of being able to more easily rectify the problem.

"If their trust deed is drafted effectively, they have far greater flexibility in ensuring their death benefits go to their intended recipients than is the case for other types of superannuation funds. In addition, they also have a much greater variety of safeguards to choose from," Harkin said.


For more media information, please contact:

Wendy Parker, Parker Public Relations Jake Spakman, Topdocs
Phone: 0422 694 503 Phone: 1300 659 242

For more information about our media releases, please contact the team at Topdocs on 1300 659 242.