Government announces National Plan to address elder abuse

The Federal Government has announced the development of a National Plan to address elder abuse.

The Commonwealth and all State and Territory governments have agreed to work together to develop the plan.

“This is a key first step in bringing government, business and community stakeholders together to properly address this critical issue,” said Attorney-General Christian Porter.

“Abuse takes many forms and can have wide reaching emotional, financial and physical effects on victims,” he said. Read more...

Law should be reformed to help protect SMSF members from elder abuse

The Australian Law Reform Commission has made a number of recommendations to improve succession planning in SMSFs, and help protect older members.

The ALRC was asked to consider changes which would help protect against elder abuse, including financially.

The ALRC makes several recommendations in the report Elder Abuse— A National Legal Response around superannuation:

  • a review of the structure and drafting of the death benefit provisions in SIS Act and Regulations, including the witnessing requirements
  • the inclusion of ‘replaceable rules’ in the SIS Act for SMSFs, providing for an enduring attorney to become trustee/director where this was provided for in the “enduring document and notwithstanding the terms of the trust deed and constitution of the corporate trustee or the actions of the other trustees/directors.”
  • amending the operating standards of SMSFs to add a requirement to consider in the investment strategy the suitability of the plan where a trustee/director “becomes ‘under a legal disability’.”
  • amending the SIS Act and ATO Trustee Declaration form so that an individual is required to notify the ATO when they become a trustee of an SMSF due to being an attorney under an enduring document.

The SMSF Association welcomed the report as a “measured approach”, saying the recommendations of the ALRC are “positive steps” towards helping mitigate the risks faced by aging SMSF members. Read more...

Education, not legislation, needed to help prevent elder financial abuse in SMSFs

The superannuation rules, including for SMSFs, should be tweaked, not overhauled, to help prevent elder financial abuse, says the SMSF Association.

“We are aware of the current dangers emerging from the ageing population and cognitive decline that may make elderly superannuation fund members more vulnerable to financial risk, but it’s important to acknowledge that SMSFs are, in the vast majority of cases, an effective and efficient retirement savings vehicle for Australians – even where an SMSF member may have lost capacity to be a trustee,” said SMSF Association Head of Policy Jordan George. Read more...