New Year Resolutions that Will Make A Real Difference To You + Loved Ones

Now that the dust has settled on what was hopefully a fun-and-family-filled Christmas and New Year period, it is a great time to reflect on those hastily-made New Year’s resolutions, and consider the difference it will make if you actually see them through.

Perhaps you resolved that in 2019 you will exercise more, quit smoking, drink less, or spend less time looking at your phone.

For others, you may have decided that 2019 is the year you get your personal, financial or business affairs in order. That may include getting those Wills and Powers of Attorney prepared (which you’ve been meaning to do for years), getting that accounting or financial advice you know will make a difference, or kick-starting that business which you’ve been daydreaming about.

Now these are New Year’s resolutions that will make a real difference to you, your loved-ones, your financial health and your current/future employees.

The most important part is getting the process started. The second-most important part is making sure that each of the elements of your plan complement, and do not contradict each other. For example, the superannuation or asset planning which you undertake with an accountant or financial advisor should be reflected in your will, your business plan should be supported by adequate funding arrangements and succession agreements, and your business tax planning and compliance must be complemented by appropriate employment agreements for your staff.

Ideally, this means you should be seeing a lawyer, accountant and financial adviser contemporaneously, and have them talk to each other to ensure each element is consistent. But who has the time and energy for that?

This is where Canny Group can help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions. We have a team of experienced accountants, lawyers and financial advisers under one roof who are ready to listen, identify your needs or the needs of your business, and work cohesively to get your affairs in order, or your dream off the ground, for the best possible start to 2019.

 

Stefan Manche

Senior Associate Solicitor – LLB, BComm (Finance) 

We Bring Home an International Award

The PANALITIX conference is a premier annual even where accountants from across the globe converge to learn on accounting best practice from industry influencers, thought leaders, technology and solution providers as well as international outstanding accounting firms.

Directors, Amanda Wilkens and Krystine Canny-Smith and Manager Helen Yau travelled across the globe to San Diego in November to take part in the conference.  Not only bringing back extra suitcases and excess baggage, they also managed to bring home the Best in Team Development Annual Award for 2018 from 12 awards.

The ‘Best in Team Development’ category aims to reward those who strive to create an amiable work environment for their team, while consequently providing continuous team development and engagement, resulting in business growth.

http://atthepac.com/thepac-awards/

Estate Planning for Blended Families

The term ‘blended family’ generally describes a family where either one, or both, parties to the current relationship have a child or children from a previous relationship, and may also have children together in the current relationship.

As you can imagine, estate planning can be a challenging task, both for the client and the advisor.  When thinking about your future and providing for your family after you have passed away, the role of your solicitor is to understand your wishes and assist in ensuring that you provide adequately for your spouse, the children of your current and previous relationships and any other dependents.  A key focus is often structuring your estate plan to avoid potential claims against your estate or other issues, and balancing this with your wishes.  It will often also encapsulate elements of tax planning to ensure that the benefit received by your family is not diminished with unnecessary tax or other duties or liabilities.

Depending on your individual circumstances and wishes, your solicitor may suggest the use of one or more of the following strategies as part of your blended family estate plan:

  1. BINDING FINANCIAL AGREEMENT

A binding financial agreement is an agreement between you and your current spouse detailing how each other’s assets are to be divided between the family in the event that the relationship ends.  The agreement may include different outcomes depending on the length of the relationship.  If proper formalities are met (such as each party receiving independent legal advice as to the impact of the agreement on them personally) then the agreement will be legally binding.  The terms of any such agreement should then be mirrored in the wills of each party.

  1. WILL CONTENT

Your will is central to your estate plan, and there are a number of mechanisms which can be included in your will to ensure that your spouse, children from your current relationship and children from a previous relationship are all adequately provided for.  Some of the more common mechanisms are the creation of a testamentary discretionary trust within the will, or a portable life interest or right to reside in a particular property.  These are strategies which provide a benefit to a person or multiple persons in the estate assets (usually the spouse), without actually transferring control or ownership of the asset to them, so that upon a designated time or event, that benefit will end and the control or ownership then passes to another party (usually children from a previous relationship).

  1. MUTUAL WILL AGREEMENT

Less restrictive then creating a trust or life interest, a Mutual Will Agreement is an agreement signed at the same time a couple makes their wills, with purpose of the agreement is to impose obligations on the surviving spouse to not change their will, even if they subsequently re-partner.  This generally ensures that all children of the parties (from the current and previous relationships) are provided for in the manner that the parties agreed, and can be enforced by the children should the surviving spouse change their Will to the detriment of the children.

  1. USE OF EXISTING STRUCTURES AND ASSETS

If may also be possible to use existing structures (such as a Family Trust or Self-managed Superannuation Fund holding valuable assets) to provide a benefit to particular parties outside of the Will, by transferring control of those entities either during your lifetime, or upon your death.  Another option may be to transfer assets to a particular person during your lifetime, or to change the ownership of the asset (such as a property) such that it will transfer to the intended beneficiary automatically upon your death (ie. by survivorship).  The benefit of such planning is that assets held in trust structures, held jointly or gifted by you during your lifetime will generally fall outside of those which can be claimed against by challenging your will.  However, there will also be potential control, stamp duty and tax consequences to be considered and therefore individual advice is required to ensure the best outcome for your situation.

The best outcomes for blended families are obtained when your family circumstances and individual wishes are considered carefully and holistically, to allow the most suitable combination of the above tools, structures and planning to be implemented.

If you wish to discuss your family estate planning please do not hesitate to contact our friendly Canny Legal team.

 

Kayla Kennedy

Law Clerk

The History Behind Our New Home

Following on from our exciting announcement last month, we sat down with Cam Hamilton of the David Hamilton Property Group (DHPG) to find out the history behind our new home and why he’s so passionate about what he does.

 

WHAT DOES THE DHPG DO?

We specialise in the purchase and development of under utilised buildings in Geelong, from there we turn them into transformations of vibrant commercial office spaces.

WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND THE FEDERAL MILLS?

The Federal Mill opened in 1915 and was built by the Commonwealth Government to manufacture woollen cloth for the Australian Army Uniforms for World War One.  In 1923 it was sold into private hands and continued to be a successful textile manufacturer under various ownership right up until the 1970s.

The David Hamilton Group purchased The Federal Mill in 2013 in a derelict state and began the restoration of the site.  The buildings themselves were in reasonable condition but the site was littered with rubbish and many of the original fittings had been removed.  To date we have completed about 75% of the renovation works and we house many new local businesses.

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE FEDERAL MILLS THAT ATTRACTED THE DHPG?

The Federal Mills presented a fabulous challenge to restore the buildings to their former glory and create a new story in Geelong.  The design of The Federal Mill was quite innovative in that it was single story and designed to optimise natural light and ventilation, which was a departure from the multi story factories built in those dates.  Today those same design qualities attract new tenants from within Geelong and nationally to set up their tech-based businesses here.  It’s a perfect environment for the new breed of entrepreneurs and start-ups in Geelong.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?

Purchasing a property with a clear vision of what we want to achieve, seeing that project through to completion and then leasing all the tenancies.  Sometimes the more successful projects can be the ‘ugly ducklings’ so I get a lot of satisfaction transforming them into great investments.

WHAT’S PLANNED FOR THE FUTURE OF THE DHPG?

We are forging ahead with our vision for the Pivot City Innovation District which is our ‘big picture’ vision for the PowerStation, Federal Mills and the Glasshouse (old Pilkington’s building) as well as a number of renovations of four buildings in Newtown and the CBD.

 

 

Header Image: ‘Federal Woollen Mills’

Image courtesy of Geelong Heritage Centre

Debt Recoveries

The world of business dealings is underpinned by trust and reliance on promises to supply goods or services often with the consideration such as payment of money, a debt being due sometime in the future.  Once a contract is legally enforceable, the Court will, if the contract is breached, allow the injured party to seek recovery in the Courts.

Canny Legal regularly act in “debt recovery” proceedings.  Some claims may be very simple such as a failure or refusal to pay monies on account.  However in the cut and thrust of business dealings, contracting parties may have complex arrangements to reach out to potential customers and rely on more complex trading terms.

Suppliers may offer their customers credit terms reflecting their trade requirements.  For example a plumber may have a business which has many projects under way and needs plumbing supplies to compete works before it gets paid from expected future profit.  The supplying company may agree to trade on credit with interest which should also be secured by a personal guarantee and a charge over the director’s property. In this scenario we often find our client’s customers may “bite off more than they can chew” and default in their accounts resulting in debt recovery proceedings.

On the other side of the fence we also act for defendants against claims for monies due and owing and we will explore any genuine defences available to defeat the claim or reduce it by way of set-off.

Debt recovery requires the careful weigh-up of a return for recovery on a debt as against time, legal costs and the uncertainties of litigation.  There will be a range of facts to consider before being able to assess and legally advice on the merits of each claim or each defence.

If you would like more information, we are always here to help.  Please get in touch with our team.

 

Richard Pinkstone – Principal Solicitor

BA, LLB

Early Release of Deposit

When selling a property you are entitled to have your deposit released to you prior to settlement under Section 27 of the Sale of Land Act (VIC). It involves the preparation of a Section 27 Statement. This Statement provides the purchaser with details of any mortgage over the property and of any caveats lodged against the property. If there is a mortgage we are required to obtain written details of the amount due under the mortgage from your bank and attach this to the statement. This information can be requested when completing your discharge of mortgage.

The completed section 27 statement is provided to the purchaser’s representative. The purchaser may sign or object to the statement. If the purchaser does not sign or object within 28 days of their representative receiving the document, the deposit may be released to you without their approval. A purchaser may object to the statement if the information contained in the statement is incorrect or if the purchase price is not sufficient to discharge the mortgage.

It is worth keeping in mind that when deposit is released to you your real estate agent is able to take their commission and advertising costs from the deposit.  If you would like more information, we are always here to help.  Please get in touch with our team.

 

Katherine Taylor – Law Clerk

BCriminology (History)

Our New Home in 2019

We have an exciting announcement to share with you…but before we start, lets rewind to 1960.

We started from humble beginnings, with our founder, Stan Canny working from the offices of business clients before moving to a portable office cabin on Station Street. The business grew fast and there was a clear need for a bigger premises. This brought us a few hundred metres down the same street to what is still our current office at 10 Station Street, Norlane.

Fast forward almost 59 years later and we are in need for an even bigger premises and we’re pleased to announce that Canny Group is re-locating to new offices located in the Federal Mills business precinct in 2019.

The decision to relocate was not taken lightly, but the move to Federal Mills was an easy one, as we could continue our proud heritage which is nearing close to 60 years of commitment to our clients and our northern suburbs community.

As we have always done, we look forward to sharing the next exciting chapter of our story with you and we can’t wait to welcome you in 2019 to our new home at The Federal Mills.

We will write to you again just before Christmas with our new address and the date we will be opening our new doors.  In the meantime, should you like any further information on the move, please contact us on 03 5278 9500.

Kindest regards,

Amanda Wilkens & Krystine Canny Smith
Directors

What happens if I die without a Will?

What happens if I die without a Will?

This is one of the most common questions we are asked when preparing Wills. This is usually followed by the question, “is it true that the Government gets my money if I die without a Will?” The short answer to this is NO, however, the Crown (Government) will receive assets of the Estate IF a person dies without leaving a surviving spouse, partner, child, grandchild, sibling, parent or cousin. This means that if you would like a friend or charity to benefit from your assets, they will miss out.

When a person dies without leaving a Will (or a valid Will which deals with the entirety of their Estate) then they are said to have died Intestate. The Administration and Probate and Other Acts Amendment (Succession and Related Matters) Act 2017 governs how a deceased’s assets are distributed should they die Intestate. This results in the deceased and their loved ones having no control as to who benefits from the Estate and in what proportions, who administers the Estate and tax and stamp duty benefits that can flow on from a distribution under a valid Will are lost.

Should you require further information, we are always here to help. Please get in touch with our team.

David Perkins retirement celebration

We were joined by some of David Perkins’ friends and valued clients to celebrate his impending retirement.

The morning tea took place at the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, where we couldn’t leave before taking in the stunning view of Geelong from the balcony.

We took the event as an opportunity to say thank you to David and to welcome the clients to the Canny Group family. All while getting to know them a little better and enjoying some of the memories they had to share.

We haven’t let David go just yet and he can still be seen around the Ryrie Street office for a little while longer. But he did cap off his speech by sharing that he has a few projects in the pipeline that will keep him very busy, so he has no intention of spending his retirement watching day time television.

Welcome screen for David Perkins' retirement event
Location: Geelong Library and Heritage Centre

Krys Canny-Smith, David Perkins and Mandy Wilkens
Krys Canny-Smith, David Perkins and Mandy Wilkens

Mandy Wilkens and David Perkins
Mandy Wilkens and David Perkins

Erin Launer and Lynne Claridge
Erin Launer and Lynne Claridge

Robert Sargeant, Christine Little, Jennifer Sargeant and Richard Pinkstone
Robert Sargeant, Christine Little, Jennifer Sargeant and Richard Pinkstone

David and Bernice Tucker and Krys Canny-Smith
David and Bernice Tucker and Krys Canny-Smith

Primrose Calvert, Richard Pinkstone, Katherine Taylor and Kayla Lynch
Primrose Calvert, Richard Pinkstone, Katherine Taylor and Kayla Lynch

Eugene Carroll, Jade MacGregor and Mandy Wilkens
Eugene Carroll, Jade MacGregor and Mandy Wilkens

Katherine Taylor, Kayla Lynch, Marnie Troeth and Jade MacGregor
Katherine Taylor, Kayla Lynch, Marnie Troeth and Jade MacGregor

David and the Canny Legal team
David Perkins and Richard Pinkstone in deep conversation

Canny Legal and Hill Perkins & Co. unite

Welcome to the next exciting chapter for Canny Legal

Canny Legal is honoured to be entrusted with the Hill Perkins & Co practice following the retirement of director, David Perkins.

Since 1993, David has led the Hill Perkins & Co team, providing professional and friendly support and advice to families and individuals throughout the Geelong region and beyond.

With his legal practice, staff and clients in mind, David approached Mandy, Krys and Richard to gauge our interest in taking on this responsibility.

Richard Pinkstone and David Perkins shaking hands in the Hill Perkins & Co office

Canny Group has worked with David professionally over the years, during which he identified many commonalities between the two firms. Both are long-established businesses in the Geelong community, however, it is not just their shared longevity that appealed to David.

We share a mutual commitment to helping clients during the happy and challenging times of their lives. Like Hill Perkins & Co, the Canny Legal door is always open with qualified staff ready to listen and support clients whenever they need assistance.

The practice, now known as Canny Legal incorporating Hill Perkins & Co will continue to operate from its current location at 14 Ryrie Street Geelong. Under the leadership of Canny Legal’s Principal Solicitor, Richard Pinkstone and Hill Perkins & Co’s Associate Solicitor, Jade MacGregor.

We look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead.

Your Key Contacts
Legal Team
Richard Pinkstone – Principal Solicitor
Jade MacGregor – Associate Solicitor
Erin Launer – Legal Practice Manager
Katherine Taylor – Law Clerk
Kayla Lynch – Law Assistant
Lynne Claridge – Administration

Find out more about Canny Legal

Wills and Challenges

Why it’s important to give consideration to the needs of family members

Grieving the death of a family member is never easy. This time is only made harder if it also brings to light unpleasant family politics and disputes that have been looming between family members. Such as an expectant child of the deceased left reeling when they see a rival sibling unfairly preferred under the Will or worse, they find themselves left out altogether.

It’s an unfortunate but not unusual situation where a family member believes their parents, partner or spouse have not taken their needs into consideration. This may lead them to challenge the Estate by making an Application to the Court for an order of proper provision, or alternatively challenging the construction of a Will if there is evidence that the Will Maker was unduly influenced when making the Will. It is worth considering the benefits of making a Will before exploring how the Will may be challenged or set aside by a Court.

Many of us set out on our life journey with goals in mind; working towards a career, starting a business, getting married and having children or wherever else our ambition may take us. In time, we acquire assets like the family home all while watching our children or grandchildren experience their own journeys. Our Estate represents this lifetime of dedication and achievement that once passed on can continue to enrich the lives of our loved ones. For some of us, individual responsibilities require succession planning advice from accountants, financial planners and lawyers.

There are different types of Wills and ways of providing for family members and their circumstances. It is important to consider the responsibilities the Will Maker has to the needs of their family. For example, a parent who has two children, one who is disabled requiring care and the other wealthy in his or her own right. The Will Maker may choose to devote some or all of the Estate to the child in need, at the expense of the child who is not.

A properly drawn Will allows a higher level of certainty in the control of assets after death; who inherits what assets and how they’re distributed in the best interests of the surviving family. A lawyer can advise on the best way to provide for family members including how to reduce the risk of a family member wasting his or her inheritance away. Families always have competing needs and siblings can often be rivalrous so any potential challenges to a Will should also be considered at this time.

The Courts will respect the Will Maker’s testamentary directions set out in the Will but if the Court feels there was duty and obligation to make better provision for a family member, beyond that in the Will, the Court will make orders overriding the Will under the Family Provision set out in the Administration and Probate Act 1958, Vic (the Act).

Will disputes are very emotional and have become a highly litigated area of law. It’s also common for a party to commence litigation in an emotionally distressed state, without having properly considered the specific objectives of the claim and the evidence required to convince a Court that it should make favourable orders. Any proposed challenge must carefully consider all the elements that are to be proved under the Act and more importantly what sort of provision the claimant seeks.

Litigation is expensive, risky and can very quickly drain the value of the Estate. The best way to reduce the chance of a challenge or limit a claim is to seek proper advice at the time of drafting the Will and ensure that it considers the Will Makers duties and obligations to family members.

The importance of having a Will

With the year now in full swing, it’s time to reflect on those New Year’s resolutions or set about establishing goals you would like to achieve over the year. While this often revolves around health and fitness, financial related matters are generally a firm second.

It may not be something many of us like to think about but this could include how your family and loved ones will be provided for when you die.  Making sure you have a valid and up to date Will is an important part of planning for your family’s future.

If you have appropriate advice the development of an effective Will is generally something that can be done quickly and easily, and once done it will provide certainty and confidence that your family will be provided for in the future.

We can’t see the future and we can’t predict unfortunate circumstances but we can plan for them, and we can help to make them easier for our loved ones.

What happens if I don’t have a Will?

Should you pass away without a valid Will:

  • The administration of your estate may be unnecessarily complicated for your surviving family members who may need to work through the courts to have your estate administered.
  • The distribution of your estate will be undertaken in line with a legislated formula that may not reflect your wishes.

If you pass without a Will your property will be distributed according to the laws of the State or Territory in which you lived at the time of your death.  Similarly, if you have children under the age of 18, they will have a guardian appointed to them by the State.  In most cases any such arrangements will not be entirely consistent with your wishes or desires.

Benefits of having a Will

The key benefits of having a Will include being able to:

  • Appoint one or more people you know and trust to be the executor of your estate.
  • Nominate guardians for any of your children who are under 18.
  • Specify exactly where and how your estate gets distributed and to whom.
  • Allocate specific gifts to particular people or organisations (e.g. charities).
  • Make specific directions about your funeral arrangements or the way you would like your body to be treated after death (e.g. to be buried or cremated).

In addition the administration of your estate will generally be more efficient and less stressful if you have a clearly drafted Will.

What happens if I don’t have a valid or up to date Will?

If you already have a Will, then congratulations on being organised!  But have you reviewed it recently?  Unfortunately, if you have a Will which is old, not clearly drafted or incomplete the document may be subject to legal challenge or may not reflect your current circumstances or wishes. Ideally you should review your Will every three to five years to make sure it still reflects your current wishes.

It is also important to review the document when any of the following events occur:

  • A change in your family (e.g. marriage, divorce, children).
  • A change in assets (e.g. you come into a large sum of money, acquire a significant asset or start running a family business).
  • A change in the capacity or circumstances of key people (e.g. a family member needs long-term medical care or special assistance, your executor dies or loses capacity).
  • A change in location (e.g. you move to a different state or country with different inheritance and estate laws).
  • A change of heart (e.g. you want to add or remove a gift to a particular friend or relative, you want to provide a gift to a charity).

Three things you may not know about Wills

  • Superannuation – Superannuation death benefits cannot be dealt with directly in a Will.  However, depending the rules of on your fund, you may be able to make a separate Binding Nomination to make sure any death benefit is distributed in accordance with your wishes.
  • Effect of marriage and divorce – In Victoria marriage has the effect of revoking any previous Wills other than those specifically and expressly made “in contemplation of marriage”. Divorce, on the other hand, doesn’t revoke an existing Will however, unless a contrary intention is shown, any appointment of your former spouse as an executor and any gift you have left them are automatically revoked.
  • Execution requirements – To be valid a Will needs to be signed by the Will-maker and witnessed by at least two people. Each page also needs to be signed by the Will-maker and the witnesses and everyone needs to sign in each other’s presence.

Most of us know the importance of having a Will. We put it on the ‘to-do’ list, then life gets in the way and we haven’t made a plan to get one in place.

We plan to buy a house and we invest time into making that house our home. We start a family and we do everything in life to protect them because the thought of losing them is too much to bear.

But do we give much thought to the question; if they lost you? While it’s doubtful that anyone’s New Year’s resolution was specifically to go out a get a Will, the comfort of knowing its been taken care of may be just as gratifying.