Elder abuse ‘needs’ a national approach

The SMSF Association welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to adopt a national approach to the issue of elder abuse.

The Attorney-General, Christian Porter, has announced that the Council of Attorneys-General will develop a National Plan to address elder abuse by the end of 2018. This is a response to a key recommendation of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) report on elder abuse, “Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response”.

SMSF Association CEO John Maroney says this issue, of prime concern to the organisation with 47 per cent of SMSF members aged 60 or older, needs a national plan to minimise, as far as possible, the incidences of elder abuse.

The Association, which also supports implementing the ALRC’s recommendations relating to SMSFs and superannuation, has pledged to work constructively with the Government and other interested parties to implement these significant changes.

Maroney says: “Elder abuse is an emerging risk for the SMSF sector and the ALRC’s recommendations regarding superannuation and the issue of enduring powers of attorney (EPOAs) can help mitigate it without significantly increasing compliance for SMSF trustees or limiting choice on how to run their fund.

“Namely, these recommendations are for changes to the superannuation laws to ensure that trustees consider planning for the loss of capacity to an SMSF trustee and estate planning as part of the fund’s investment strategy and that the ATO is told when an individual becomes an SMSF trustee because of an EPOA.

“The investment strategy recommendation will ensure that SMSF trustees and their advisers give more thought to planning for loss of capacity and ensuring that the right people assist SMSF members with their fund as they age.”

Maroney says the Association also supports the recommendation to provide replaceable rules for the limited circumstances where an SMSF trust deed does not appropriately allow a new trustee to be added to a fund where an EPOA is required to be used.

“Similarly, we support the ALRC’s call for a review of the laws regarding binding death benefit nominations for superannuation fund members. We acknowledge this is an area of superannuation law where there is increasing disputation between a deceased’s beneficiaries and relatives.

“The ALRC’s recommendations to increase oversight of the use of EPOAs and create a consistent national approach to their use also has our backing,” he says.