Tips and Advice

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Can I disinherit my wayward child from my will?... You may be surprised!

Who can make a claim against your estate? What needs to be established by the applicant? What will the court consider? Read on as we answer these important questions along with proactive strategies to help protect your estate.
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Superannuation Alert: The Tragedy of a Defective Death Benefit Nomination

SMSF Trustees often hear the warnings of the importance of estate planning. When trying to bring home the reasoning behind this, case studies are generally the most persuasive tool since Trustees won't be around to fix things up themselves.
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When do employees have to pay YOU?

It's a question that often comes up in dealings with my clients: if an employee breaks/loses equipment, do they have to compensate their employer? And can I deduct such a debt from their wages?

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Practical Tips for Enforcing Restraint Clauses

Last week we spoke of a recent experience with a client that revealed the expensive consequences of not having restraint clauses in place, and how for a small investment you can avoid falling into the same trap. Once you have the correct restraint clauses in place the challenge is then how to make sure your ex-employee complies with them.
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Power of Attorney – Changes are here!

A power of attorney is like insurance. If you have not planned for the worst when the unexpected occurs you might find that you, your legal and financial affairs and your family and friends all suffer to a much greater degree than necessary. Angela Harvey, partner, and Euge Power, solicitor, provide some Q&A to demystify this topic for those interested in eliminating some of the risk to themselves and others in life.

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Salary packaging: Get more from your salary

Salary packaging reduces your taxable income and so reduces the amount of income tax you pay. Find out how it works and what can be packaged.
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Sexually Transmitted Debt: Are you liable for your ex’s debts upon separation?

Separating parties are often anxious to know whether they will become liable for their ex-partner's debts upon separation. This article discusses sexually transmitted debt and what it means in the context of family law proceedings.
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A Practical Guide to Warnings in the Workplace

A warning is a communication be it verbal (more informal) or written (more formal) to an employee about their performance or conduct at work. They are a mechanism for communicating an identified area where an employee needs improvement, or where conduct does not meet the requisite standard. The aim is to improve employee performance or conduct.

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5 Tips for How to Gain Confidence at Public Speaking

1. Believe in your capacity to improve.

You don’t need to believe you can become the next JFK or MLK but you do need to believe in your capacity to improve your skills.

People generally do better if they have a growth mindset (you see yourself as a work in progress) vs. a fixed mindset (you believe you capacities are fixed).

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Employers: Don't forget to update your tax rates and new Super Guarantee rate to 9.25% from 1 July, 2013!!

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Tips on how Small and Medium Enterprises can avoid business failure

Two recent surveys of Small and Medium Enterprise (‘SME’) business owners and their advisers revealed some key reasons why businesses fail.

According to a CCH survey, SME owners believe that most business failures are a result of poor cost management, whilst many of their advisers believe that failure is often due to a poorly designed business model. Both agree that inexperienced management is a key factor, but a significant number of SME owners also believe that some business failures are unavoidable as the causes are out of their control.

The survey also confirmed that an SME’s accountant is its most trusted adviser for the continued success and growth of its business. Financial advisers are also highly regarded.

A recent PwC Report highlighted that the key to business success is careful planning and formulating a long term business plan. This demonstrates that the initial emphasis should be on how the SME is formed and managed to provide the SME with the greatest ability to capitalise on its business plan.

The results of both the CCH Survey and the PwC Report correspond with our experiences with SMEs.

Poorly designed business models and inadequate protection of assets, such as technology and intellectual property, can severely impede the success of a business by eroding its margins.

If these issues are not addressed at an early stage, this often results in additional expenditure required to restructure the business or transfer assets to other entities, which are easily preventable with advanced planning.
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2013 Super Contribution & Pension Payments: Do you know your tax obligations?

Having a Superannuation Fund is a very tax effective way to provide benefits for retirement.

There are however many important rules that the Fund must comply with! As a service to our Clients we have highlighted some areas that may need your attention.

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What to do when you've just Separated

The three most important things to do are to see a family lawyer, look after yourself and keep communication with your spouse friendly.

Make an appointment to see a family lawyer. The best way to get the answers that you need is to speak to a professional who resolves these issues every day. The earlier you are aware of your legal rights, entitlements and responsibilities, the sooner you will be able to reach a fair and reasonable agreement with your spouse. Importantly, never sign any agreements with your spouse without seeking advice from a lawyer.
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Employees Having Children: What you need to know

When employees have children (either via them or a partner giving birth or through adoption) there are a number of consequences for the employment space. Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) employees can access unpaid parental leave and a number of other entitlements. There are also certain obligations for employers.
- Unpaid Parental Leave Basics.
- What is the Return To Work Guarantee?
- Consulting with employees while on Unpaid Parental Leave.
- Flexible Working Arrangements.
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When do I need a Will?

As a general rule you should have your Will amended (or get a new Will drafted if amending isn’t possible) when you experience a major change in your life or a significant event, for example:
• You plan to get married.
• Changes in the law.
• You change your mind about who you want to inherit a portion of your property.
• You have children.
• To change the guardian of your child (or children).
• You acquire or dispose of substantial or sentimental assets.
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The Impact of the Self Managed Superannuation Changes

The Government has announced reforms to the superannuation system. Chris Balalovski, Perpetual Private’s Head of Strategic Advice outlines the proposed changes and their potential impact on you.

- Cap on earnings that support income streams
- Special capital gains tax arrangements
- Higher concessional contributions cap
- Some downsides for social security recipients

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Don't miss the Super Guarantee Deadline!!!

If you don’t meet your super obligations as an employer, you have to:
Complete a Superannuation guarantee charge statement – quarterly (NAT 9599)
Work out the amount of super guarantee charge to pay (using the calculator tool available on the ATO website)
Pay the super guarantee charge (SGC) to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) by the due date for the relevant quarter

You’ll have to do this if you:
Don’t pay enough super contributions (at least 9% or ordinary time earnings) for your employee – this is called a super guarantee shortfall
Don’t pay super contributions by the quarterly cut-off date for payment
Don’t pay super to your employee’s chosen super fund – this is called a choice liability.

The super guarantee charge is made up of the super guarantee shortfall amounts (including any choice liability), interest at 10% per annum, and an administration fee of $20 per employee per quarter.
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Employee Rights when your Employer becomes Insolvent

In October the Federal Government introduced the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Bill 2012 to formalise by legislation, what has to date operated as the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS). The Bill is now sitting in the Senate of the Federal Parliament and nearing the end of the legislative process. It is likely to become law in early 2013. It is not anticipated that there will be any significant changes to the Bill in its present form.

The GEERS scheme (and now the Bill), are aimed at providing a level of protection for Australian employees who, were it not for the assistance provided under GEERS (and now the Bill), would not receive entitlements following the termination of employment due to their employer’s insolvency. This article looks at some key aspects of the legislation.
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Conditions Improve for First Home Buyers

Rising incomes and stagnate house prices mean home buyers are taking less time to save for their first home deposit, research suggests.

Couples buying their first property took about three years and nine months on average to save a deposit in 2012 – about three months less than in 2011, according to findings from a Bankwest study.

“People are starting to think that it’s a good time to buy and feeling more comfortable about buying,” said Bankwest retail chief executive Vittoria Shortt.

Falling interest rates also mean the average first home buyer with a variable rate home loan is about $700 a year better off this year compared to last year, RateCity data shows.

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Help Wanted: A Team Player

Do you play well with others? If you’re a part of the working world, playing well with others means being a member of a team. It’s a key part of nearly every job description.

At the very least, it means that you can get along in the workplace – that you have the social skills to have open, productive relationships with other workers so that collectively you can all get done what you need to get done, whether it’s writing a research report, inventing a fresh sales presentation or just keeping a company running day to day.
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The Survival Guide for dealing with Chronic Complainers

The constant negativity issuing forth from chronic complainers presents a huge challenge for those around them. Trying to remain positive, motivated and productive amid a constant stream of complaints and dissatisfaction can try anyone’s patience.

Trying to be helpful will always backfire. Nothing makes chronic complainers happier, than being more miserable than their friends.
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Why borrow through a Self Managed Super Fund?

A personal self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) may be the best structure to use for your investments, notwithstanding its limitations. Borrowing by the super fund could then provide you with the necessary leverage to accelerate your investment returns but care needs to be taken to ensure the level of borrowing is sustainable.

Consider this. Sean is 35 and doing well at work and wants to invest in real estate for the long term. He puts $25,000 into an SMSF as the only member.
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The Perfect Amount of Stress

Stress, when it’s chronic or repeated, does more than unnerve us; it can make us physically sick. It dampens the immune system and dries out the digestive tract, setting the stage for disorders from irritable bowel syndrome to ulcerative colitis. It impairs memory and in extreme cases fuels anxiety. It can even gnaw at the ends of chromosomes, thereby accelerating cellular aging.

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Dealing with Difficult People

Some people go to extraordinary lengths to be difficult. Think of the diva actress whose on-set needs can never be met or the boss who keeps moving the goal posts. The difficult person elevates the deliberate provocation to an art form. The underlying message is often, “Unless you agree with me and go along, you’ll regret it.”
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How Positive Psychology can boost your Business

To understand how positive psychology – the so-called science of happiness- is being used by entrepreneurs, it helps to look at a company under siege. After all, it’s one thing to talk about the connections between a positive mental state and a healthy company when a business is running well, turning a profit, and grabbing new customers. But tougher times really test entrepreneurs, separating those who hunker down and hope the worst will pass from those who use their strengths to find opportunity amid rubble.
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First Home Saver Accounts: What you need to know

First home saver accounts offer a tax-effective way of saving for your first home through a combination of government contributions and low taxes. They’re a special purpose account that is more like a term deposit than a normal, everyday account because you have to keep the money there for a minimum period of time. Once that time has passed and you make the decision to buy or build your first home, you have to withdraw all the money at once and close the account. You need to use the money you save as a deposit or to meet other costs you incur in buying or building your first home.
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Paid Parental Leave versus Baby Bonus

If you are having a baby or adopting a child, you may be eligible to receive either Parental Leave Pay under the Paid Parental Leave scheme or Baby Bonus.

If you are a working parent and become the primary carer of a child born or adopted from 1 January 2011 you may be eligible for the Paid Parental Leave scheme. This new entitlement provides a maximum of 18 weeks of government funded Parental Leave Pay at the rate of the National Minimum Wage. Alternatively, Baby Bonus may be paid to an eligible primary carer or their partner following the birth or adoption of a child. Baby Bonus is paid per eligible child, and is paid in 13 fortnightly instalments.
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Why you should update your SMSF Trust Deed.

Basically because the Tax Office and the superannuation law says so, that’s why.

The Commissioner of Taxation has commented that “trustees may need to take care to ensure the fund’s trust deed is up to date in the event that members wish to take advantage of…new options…”.

The Commissioner has also stated that “we will take a firm approach with trustees who fail to make a genuine effort to comply”.
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Buy/Sell Agreements for Co-owners of a Business

A Buy/Sell Agreement is a business succession contract usually established between co-owners of a business to enable the business to continue on the involuntary departure of the one or more of the owners in the event of their death, trauma, critical illness or total permanent disability. Typically, retirement or other voluntary dissolutions of the business are not covered under buy/sell agreements but come under contractual arrangements.

Generally, a buy/sell agreement is designed to cover different types of small to medium size business ownership structures, such as family trusts, partnerships or companies.
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Choosing your Executor

It seems that one of the hardest things for most testators these days is choosing who will be their executor. And the more complex the Will the harder it becomes.
In the good old days (when the worst swear word on TV was “bother” and there were no such things as phone contracts) people making their Will (who are called ‘the testator’) simply chose their spouse as their executor. If the spouse died before them then they would substitute their eldest son. Simple.
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Can your Will be challenged by your former spouse?

Trevor tells you he has made a Will leaving everything to his wife and their young teenage son. This is his second marriage; he has two adult children from his first marriage and his former wife has not remarried.

Can Trevor’s Will be challenged by his former wife? And what is the time limit on such applications?

A person making a will generally has testamentary freedom to leave their assets to whomever they want. Unfortunately this is only partly true and the court may change the provisions of a person’s Will in certain circumstances.
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Super Investment: Which option is right for you?

With superannuation, it’s easy to set and forget. But choosing a suitable investment option will have a major impact on how your super performs.

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Trouble With Debt?

Are you struggling to make ends meet because you are unemployed, sick or your relationship has broken down? Or are you having trouble with family finances for other reasons? Whatever your situation, it’s important to act quickly.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission through its ‘MoneySmart’ website has the following advice.
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Wills & Powers of Attorney: How Prepared Are You?

Preparing for your family’s future

No-one wants to think about death in the prime of life. But it’s important to decide what will happen to your assets when you die. Find out how you can give instructions to your family about your legal and medical preferences should you fall ill or lose the capacity to make those decisions yourself.
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First Home Buyers Benefits NSW: What are you entitled to?

The First Home Owner Grant Scheme is available to people buying and building their first home.

If eligible, you can receive the Grant of $7,000 regardless of your income and the area in which you are planning to buy or build. The Grant is not means tested and no tax is payable on it. However, there is a cap of $835,000 on the maximum property price a first home buyer can pay and still be eligible for the grant.
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Are you afraid of Apps?

With today’s technology evolving at an ever faster pace, the way we manage our business and personal lives has changed dramatically.

Accordingly, Apple and Android device applications (‘apps’) have been created to minimise time spent on business and personal administration. With a wide selection of apps to choose from, it’s hard to know which ones could really benefit you and how you work.
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Self Managed Super - Borrowing to Purchase Real Estate

It is now well known that legislative changes to the Superannuation Industry Supervision Act (SIS Act) allows Self Managed Superannuation Funds (‘SMSF’) to borrow to invest in direct property or shares, subject to certain conditions.

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Could You Have Unclaimed Money?

There is currently $600 million waiting to be claimed from bank, credit union or building society accounts, shares and life insurance policies. ASIC have provided an 'Unclaimed Money Online Search' which you can use to check if you have any money being held on your behalf.

ASIC holds money from bank, credit union and building society accounts that have not been used in 7 years and contain a balance of $500 or more. The money sits with the Commonwealth Government until you claim it.
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Self Managed Super Funds - Corporate Trustee or Individual Trustee?

Additional expenses are involved for a corporate trustee, such as initial establishment costs for a new company, as well as annual ASIC lodgement fees. There are also generally additional administrative and lodging requirements for a corporate trustee.
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Employers - Don't Be Late With Your Super Guarantee Payments...200% Penalties!!

Super Guarantee Contributions on behalf of employees should be paid to the Super Funds concerned or the Medicare Clearing House as appropriate by 28 October.

If that date is missed then a Super Guarantee Charge Statement must be lodged with the Taxation Office by 28 November.

It is too late to pay the Super Fund direct after 28 October. If you do, however, you are still required to lodge a Super Guarantee Charge Statement plus Interest and Administration Fees.
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Perisher Blue - Great Deal on 2012 Season Pass

In a season of so many 'firsts' for Australia's favourite ski resort Perisher, today marks yet another one with the launch of its brand new 2012 Freedom Pass. For only $699, the new Freedom Pass gives snow goers unbelievable value and flexibility allowing them to enjoy Perisher when they want, as much as they want, all season long.

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Project Wickenby: Off Shore Schemes

With the combined effort of eight government agencies, unprecedented international cooperation and sophisticated technology, Project Wickenby is getting results.

The Project Wickenby cross-agency task force consists of eight federal departments and agencies, including the Australian Taxation Office, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Federal Police.
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Natural Disasters and Your Home: Are you Insured?

Having your home damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster is devastating. While these events are usually impossible to predict, one thing you can control is your insurance.
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Yes, No, Maybe: When does a De Facto Relationship exist?

There is no single test for deciding whether or not a couple are in a de facto relationship. The decision may well depend on the reason you need to know.

Supporters of marriage always call it “an institution”. But as the comedians point out – who wants to live in an institution? There are sufficient numbers of people who don’t want to get married to make “living together” a preferred status to formal marriage.

But when you’ve been ‘living together’ long enough you may become a virtual marriage – traditionally called “a de facto marriage” or “de facto relationship”.
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Investing in property at home and overseas - What are the risks?

Buying a property to rent out is a popular form of investment. Houses and units are easier to understand than many other forms of investments. However, they do have some issues that you need to be aware of.
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Reforms to Car Fringe Benefits - How will it affect you?

The government has enacted legislation which changes the statutory formula method to calculate car fringe benefits.

The legislation applies to all car fringe benefits after 7.30pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) on 10 May 2011; unless it can be proven that there was a pre-existing commitment in place to provide a car. A commitment occurs when a financially binding decision to acquire a car has been made and that decision is binding on one or more of the parties.
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Superannuation Scams

An offer to help you get your superannuation money early might seem like a great idea. But if you agree to it you could end up in a lot of trouble.

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Self-Managed Super

For many Australians, super is one of the biggest investments, if not the biggest investment, they will ever have. That's why most people keep their super money in professionally managed super funds.
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Keeping Track & Lost Super

Have you kept track of all your super? If you've changed jobs a lot, or done casual or part-time work, you may have lost track of some super.

If a super fund 'loses' you - for example, if you've changed address and not informed them - the fund may transfer your super money into an eligible rollover fund, which often have very high fees.
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Identity Fraud

According to a 2007 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey on personal fraud, half a million Australians have experienced some form of identity fraud. Unfortunately, it has become very easy for someone to steal your personal details and carry out illegal activities in your name.

However, you can take steps to protect yourself from identity fraud by following the tips below. If you think your personal information has been stolen, contact the police immediately.
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