ATMD Bird & Bird Corporate Pulse (July 2012)

With compliments from ATMD Bird & Bird LLP

STEP Certificate for Financial Services - Singapore (Trusts and Estate Planning) 

The STEP Certificate for Financial Services (Trusts and Estate Planning) Singapore was developed to help financial intermediaries understand the legal and tax issues in financial and estate planning. This programme and the course materials were developed by Mr Lee Chiwi, TEP of Rockwills Trustee Ltd. This Certificate is timely in equipping Financial Services Professionals (Financial Advisory, Insurance, Banking and other Professionals) develop their knowledge and enable them to integrate what they do in wealth accumulation and management with the estate planning and distribution objectives of their clients.

There were 36 enthusiastic participants in the inaugural class. The once a week class (Wednesdays, 6 to 9 pm) started from 8 Feb 2012 for 15 weeks till 16th May 2012 and was tutored by several industry specialists. A wide range of topics was taught, from Personal Law, Wills and Intestate Succession, Trusts, Muslim Inheritance in Singapore, Taxation on Trusts to Mental Incapacity and Philanthropy. Candidates also went through case studies and lively discussions. With an array of distinguished speakers for the different topics, the delegates received a holistic education encapsulating the essence of estate planning.

During the course, two networking sessions were also organised to enable participants to meet with the lecturers and other delegates. At the end of the course, the delegates sat through a 3 hour examination, putting everything they had learnt to the test. On passing the examination, the participants will be able to carry the designation as Affiliate of STEP. The next Certificate program will run from Feb 2013.

“Up Close & Personal” – Interview with S Sharma

S Sharma 
Organisation ATMD Bird & Bird LLP 
Designation & Role in Organisation: Consultant, Tax & Trust Advisor and Dispute Resolution Specialist including Adjudication, Arbitration, Negotiation and Mediation.

Years in Trust Industry: 20

Getting to know S Sharma

The book I am currently reading is ... RIP - announcing the ROAR model, first edition 2010, by Chrissie Lightfoot 

The person(s) who have been my biggest influence is ... My father

What I like most about my job/experiences in the trust industry is ... Things keep changing and evolving constantly.

My golden rule is ... Use the bikini approach - keep it short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover the essentials.

The expression I hate most is ... Without further ado.

Post-Event Updates
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

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 is 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

Family Philanthropy: Burden or Opportunity for Wealth Planner? 
  (5 September 2012, Anson III, M Hotel) 


STEP monthly seminar ¨Family Philanthropy: Burden or Opportunity for Wealth Planners was held at the M Hotel on September 5th, 2012. Chaired by our President Goh Seow Chee the event offered participants with experiences of organizations providing insight into the needs of private clients and families concerning their philanthropy desires. Mr. Maurice Machenbaum from the company WISE Philanthropy Advisors shared his experiences of developing charity projects around the world and the many areas where clients would require assistance to adequately channel resources and efforts towards a philanthropic goal. These experiences moved him to co-found WISE as advisors to families and individuals on all aspects of their charitable work, including working together with the different service providers to a family: asset managers, tax advisors, lawyers and family office.

At the same time, Ms. Catherine Loh from the Community Foundation of Singapore provided insight into the philanthropic environment in Singapore outlining the many areas where the Foundation, as a Public Interest Chartered entity, could provide assistance and guidance to donors of different causes, including the tax benefits granted by the government to these actions. An interesting Q&A session added more details such as standard cost ratios and the panelists´ experiences dealing with the human issues surrounding charitable projects.

Contributed by Alexis Medina - Morgan & Morgan Corporate Services Pte. Ltd

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