Superannuation Death Benefits
Almost everyone has superannuation and for many of us, it is one of our largest assets. Unfortunately superannuation is often misunderstood and forgotten because you do not ‘see’ it in your bank account and generally cannot “touch it” until your retirement.
Statistics show that 83% of members of superannuation funds also have life insurance through their super. Therefore while yyou may not have much superannuation (especially when you are at the beginning of your working life), the life insurance attached to it may give the amount payable upon your death more value than you think.
Do you know what your superannuation does not automatically form part of your estate and may therefore not be covered by your Will? Rather the terms of your superannuation fund will determine what happens to your superannuation upon your death.
Have you read the terms of your superannuation fund? Do not worry – hardly anyone has.
Generally their terms provide that the trustee of your superannuation fund has discretion to determine who receives your superannuation. However, the majority of superannuation funds (including self managed superannuation funds) allow their members to nominate a beneficiary or beneficiaries. You may also be allowed to make such a nomination binding which means you can “take away” trustee’s discretion.
In order to ensure that your binding nomination is valid all requirements of the superannuation fund must be satisfied. This is particularly important when you are a member of a self managed superannuation fund.
Examples of Issues surrounding Superannuation Death Benefits
Recently we assisted an executor where the deceased was a member of six superannuation funds. The deceased had not made a binding nomination regarding any of them, this means it was at the discretion of the various trustees to decide who would receive the superannuation. Even though the same facts and evidence were provided to the various superannuation funds, there were four different outcomes.
Other persons had addressed the distribution of their superannuation in their Will but forgot to make a binding nomination or such nomination turned out to be invalid.In many cases, the superannuation ended up with other persons as wished by the deceased. To change a trustee’s decision is a long and expensive process and might still not be successful.
Therefore do not leave who receives your superannuation in the hands of the trustee of your superannuation fund. Superannuation death benefits need to be carefully considered. An Appropriately drafted nomination which reflects your wishes and ensures every step required by the terms of your superannuation fund to make a nomination binding is essential. And the terms of superannuation funds are not the same! We can help you to ensure your nomination reflects your wishes and is binding. Call Aitken Lawyers experienced Estate Planning Team on (02) 8987 0000.