For most of our clients who carry on a business, protecting their assets that they have built up in their lifetime is a key aspect we think about when structuring their affairs.
New rules have made it even easier to restructure small business's affairs. If there are issues with your structure, now is the time to fix it!
What does this all mean? The main forms of asset protection are:
Carrying on a business through a separate legal entity, e.g. a company or trust;
Regularly paying dividends from the company that is carrying on a business to reduce surplus assets in the company in case of a future law suit;
Holding valuable business assets in a separate legal entity to the trading entity (e.g.commercial property, valuable equipment, intellectual property);
Choosing one person in the family to be the 'at risk' individual. This is usually the individual who runs the business. This person will be the director in the company and they provide personal guarantees to lenders etc;
Owning all assets, including the family home, in the individual who is not 'at risk'; and
Accumulating investment assets in a discretionary trust established for the benefit of the family (instead of an individual's name).
With any business structure, or change in business structure, you need to examine the pro's and con's of each structure. Asset protection is one issue, tax consequences, functionality, costs of changing structures and running costs are other factors that need to be weighed up to make an informed decision.
We have completed many restructures lately, all that have met the clients needs and objectives by putting them in a much better structure then before. If something above has sparked something in your situation that doesn't sit right with you, now is the time to act.
As part of our year end tax return process for our clients, we perform a structure review to make sure your current structure is still the most current and beneficial structure for you. I am sure many of you have already been contacted by us regarding changes!