Stamping Out Succession Planning? (17 July 2012, STI Auditorium)                                         


A provocative subject matter that created lots of questions and interest from the audience.

For Singapore, the ABSD regime was introduced as a cooling measure to the heating up property prices. However, it created a mismatch of intent and effect in that persons who genuinely wish to establish a succession planning strategies are caught by the rules. Whilst there are guidelines provided by IRAS, it is not clear in the case of a discretionary trust’s beneficiaries’ liabilities to ABSD.

The changes in UK’s SDLT rule, according to the speaker, are perhaps to create a level playing for resident and foreign investor. As it only impacts high value property, that is property above GBP2million, one joked about whether this is a way for revenue collection. Questions were asked about ways to structure for purchasing new property and whether persons with existing structures (commonly an offshore company) should be restructured. Some insights were discussed and the aspects to consider when restructuring such as the gains accumulated and weighing that against losing IHT tax mitigation etc etc.

The consultation paper to the proposed SDLT rules are out for industry feedback. STEP UK would be making representation. Look out for more news in the horizon on the outcome of the consultation paper.

Contributed by Goh Seow Chee - J.P Morgan Chase



STEP Symposium - Focus on the Family  (28 June 2012, Shalom Theatrette) 


Earlier this year, in late June, STEP Singapore held its half-day symposium, entitled "Focus on the Family".  Perhaps the title should have been extended to add the words "in trouble" as the discussions looked at the impact of divorce in some detail!

The event, even after a very last minute shift in venue, was very well attended and the full house were well rewarded by attending a riveting afternoon of presentations from experts in Singapore and from around the world.

Each speaker was not only very erudite, but by illustrating principles with real life examples the audience could understand the true impact of the actions of desperate husbands/housewives on matrimonial property, custody and other issues. 

The first session at this Symposium, presented by Ms Engelin Teh, SC, Engelin Teh Practice LLP, examined the practical issues affecting the “Division of Matrimonial Assets”.

The second speaker, Mr.Yap Teong Liang, of TL Yap & Associates discussed “Pre-nuptials & Post-nuptials as a Preventative Measure in Divorce” and looked at the effectiveness of these arrangements under Singapore law.

“Trust as an Instrument for Divorce Planning" was delivered by Mr. Nick Jacob of Lawrence Graham LLP who looked at how planning can avoid problems that would otherwise arise as a consequence of a divorce of settlors and beneficiaries.

Finally, an interactive panel discussion on “Trusts in Messy Divorces – Challenges & Opportunities” brought together Mr. Ronald Choo of Rajah & Tann LLP, Ms. Jennie Tan Siok Kim of British & Malayan Trustees Ltd,  Dr. Britta Pfister of Rothschild Trust and Nick Jacob.

There was a good Q&A session and very positive feedback after the event.  As a consequence, the STEP Committee will be looking to follow up with further seminars on this area next year.

Contributed by James Aitken - HSBC  Trustee (Singapore) Ltd

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