Amendments proposed to the Corporations Act (Act) in a new bill, the Corporations and Other Legislation Amendment (Trustee Companies and Other Measures) Bill 2011 (COLA Bill), were accepted on 21 March 2011.  

The COLA Bill proposes a number of changes to the trustee company provisions in Chapter 5D of the Act which include allowing for the voluntary transfer of estate assets and liabilities as a whole, enabling transfers to State and Territory Public Trustees, and increasing the severity of penalties.  

The explanatory memorandum to the COLA Bill, show that it is expected to result in increased efficiency in the industry through voluntary transfers, clarifying the powers of trustee companies and strengthening compliance.

With the changes due to take effect from 1 July 2011, it will be interesting to see whether the efficiency that is offered by being able to apply to ASIC for approval of a voluntary transfer of estate assets and liabilities from another ASIC licensed trustee company (as opposed to the present scheme of having to wait for ASIC to cancel the previous licence) is not negatively affected by the requirements associated with strengthening compliance (including the more formal requirements that individuals apply in writing to the Minister before having their application considered by the Governor-General).