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Learn Why Good Deeds Matter

David Boyar // Practice Management, Tax Planning, Delivery, Engagement & Pricing, Life Accounting, Marketing

Why do deeds matter so much—to clients and accountants? And why is it so important that you’re on top of them?

It’s foundational. Deeds are the ultimate backstop in protecting your client’s assets—and keeping those assets in their bloodline.

You work hard all year on frontline wealth creation and protection—advice, strategy, and compliance. When it comes to deeds though, it’s too easy to believe lawyers are the only people to drive any change—or even just keep up.

It’s wrong—dangerously so. And it all comes from common misconceptions accountants hold about deeds—outdated ideas that are holding you back.

We hear them all—‘deeds are set in stone’, or ‘deeds can’t be changed or the ATO will treat it as a resettlement’, or ‘deeds cost too much to change’. And of course our old favourites, ‘deeds need lawyers’ and ‘I’m too busy for deeds’.

But deeds matter—and so does your ability to work with them as an accountant.

Here’s why.

Opportunity knocks (negligence knocks out).

As the trusted advisor, you should never be in the dark, and never defer when it comes to major financial choices. This is especially true with deeds, which come to the fore during significant life or business events. We’re talking about death, an incapacitation—major change.

It’s exactly these times that clients most need to lean on you—do you want to be the rock who’s already mastered deeds? The one who already set up a deed to allow the right person to step in and manage? Do you want to be remembered as the advisor that had foreseen and was also ready to act on any changes?

Beyond those opportunities to cement your trusted advisor relationship, being ‘deed aware’ could fend off the worst scenario—in which a calamitous situation is made worse by group or family assets lost to deeds that haven’t been properly or strategically set up. You don’t want to be the one who could have but didn’t—that’s when frustrated clients start thinking ‘negligence’.

Asset protection is everything.

Protecting your client’s assets is at the core of your work. So why would you leave the instruments that define that protection to chance, or to a third party? Deeds are the foundation of trading with protection, of using trust funds and SMSF structures for assets.

From trading vehicles to retirement methods, deeds decide who's involved, who can come and go, and how any changes are decided. Protecting assets begins and ends with deeds—so there’s no end to their importance when it comes to your client’s wealth.

Minimising tax is a close second.

Clients love you when you minimise their tax. In their eyes it’s one of your most visible rock-star moments—so getting it right matters. Tax law changes all the time—and so too should your clients’ structures, and therefore deeds. Too many older deeds don’t allow streaming of income—and miss out on allocating income as franked dividends, capital gains or business income.

The family bloodline is king.

We’ll cover estate planning in detail in future CPD—but it all starts with good deeds that establish and maintain built-in lines of succession. Just like the royals, it means clients’ hard-earned wealth stays in their bloodline. But there’s more to it—there needs to be flexibility to a succession plan, and bring in the right people in a way that balances equity and skill—and it all happens in deeds.

Lawyer? There’s an app for that.

Deeds are about financial strategy—that’s why accountants should be reviewing them and driving changes. Lawyers are only needed for the most cursory and statutory work on deeds. The real contribution of lawyers to deeds is so rote and by-the-numbers that in fact that work is now all but automated. Lightyear Docs now process deeds for nominal fees to ensure legality.

Banish the resettlement ‘bogeyman’.

A bogeyman stalks accountants when it comes to deeds. The dreaded resettlement definition by the ATO—with possible CGT and stamp duty on trust assets—keeps too many accountants giving deed changes a wide berth. In fact the reality is nothing like the legend, and the ATO made this very clear back in 2012 that deed changes can happen without a resettlement.

Armed with the right knowledge you could be reviewing deeds annually—using BGL’s CAS360 and SimpleFund to automate the reminders. You could be using a legal platform to secure professional indemnity insurance on every deed—as well as using the ChangeGPS Core Value, Plan, Price emails to explain the value to clients—and make deed review and restructure a new billable.


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