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Moving abroad? Think about your SMSF’s residency rules

Moving abroad? Think about your SMSF’s residency rules

As more SMSFs make the shift overseas, it’s important that they consider residency rules and the opportunities in alternative structures, a technical expert has said. 

PwC director of private clients Liz Westover told delegates at the SMSF Association National Conference that she is seeing a lot of questions about the residency rules for super funds as society becomes increasingly globalised.

"Our practice is getting a lot of inquiries from people who are moving overseas and want to know about the residency of the fund," said Ms Westover.

"Clearly if you have an SMSF and do want to move overseas, there are some issues that you need to address. It might be time to look at alternative structures to an SMSF."

While Ms Westover said it is possible to put a power of attorney in place and other strategies, SMSFs still need to think about whether that's the right structure for them moving forward. 

Cognitive decline is another area where SMSF practitioners need to look at winding up the fund, she said. 

"Cognitive decline is a huge issue in superannuation, particularly with SMSFs," said Ms Westover.

Clients tend to be very reluctant to go and get a diagnosis of cognitive decline or dementia, she said, because of the consequences of doing so. 

"Typically they'll lose their driver's licence straight away if they get a diagnosis of dementia, so they're not going to put their hand up and say I can't handle my SMSF anymore," she said.

Speaking to an audience of advisers, she said, "We need to start having those conversations with our clients much earlier to identify our exit strategies out of the SMSF. That might be an APRA fund, or it might be another tax structure that we can look at but we need to have those discussions with our clients now and start making decisions before they're not in the best frame of mind to be able to make those kinds of decisions about their financial wellbeing."

There will be a time for most SMSFs, Ms Westover said, where it's no longer the appropriate vehicle. 

"Quite simply they might be getting older, they might want to do a lot more travel, they might have lost interest in the stock markets and so on, or they don't want an SMSF anymore," she said.

SMSF practitioners in these situations, Ms Westover said, will need to explore other options such as moving over to an APRA fund, or rolling over to a small APRA fund that can be an appropriate vehicle, depending on the underlying asset. 

Moving abroad? Think about your SMSF’s residency rules
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