Unsigned, undated deed updates overlooked

SMSF trustees should check their latest SMSF deed to ensure it is properly dated and signed as unsigned or undated deeds can result in the fund being non-compliant, an SMSF specialist adviser has warned.

Verante Financial Planning financial planner Liam Shorte said those funds with unsigned or undated deeds may also be unable to function, which can cause many hindrances for beneficiaries.

Furthermore, it is a legal document that should be properly executed by a qualified person according to state or territory laws.

“If you are a professional adviser, then those disgruntled parties will be looking for someone still alive to blame and pick up the costs,” Shorte said in a recent blog post.

“I take over management of a lot of funds and we are seeing many cases where the original trust deed was signed correctly and dated, but a subsequent update or deed of amendment is sitting on the file unsigned or undated.

“It is illegal to sign and backdate documents. As the trustee of your fund it is your responsibility to ensure that deeds are legally compliant, signed and up to date.”

Accountants, administrators, financial planners and auditors may share responsibility to ensure deeds are updated and compliant, and could be culpable if a beneficiary finds an unsigned deed has resulted in a compliance breach with heavy tax or administrative penalties.

SMSF trustees should check if they have a deed in their files that is properly signed, witnessed and dated. If they do not, they should email their accountant and financial adviser and ask for confirmation they have a signed and dated original copy on file, and ask for a certified copy if they do.

If the deed is dated pre-2012, trustees should ask accountants and administrators if it has been updated, signed and dated.

“Get a copy of all deeds of amendment for your records so you can show the full history of your fund. Keep a copy for yourself in case you fall out with your professional advisers,” Shorte said.

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