How do I give superannuation away when I die?

Superannuation does not normally form part of your estate.  It usually goes directly to the person that you nominate to receive the benefit from your superannuation.  The way that you nominate someone is by using a death benefit nomination form or a binding death benefit nomination form.

What is a death benefit nomination?

A death benefit nomination is a non-binding nomination made by you.  In it you express your wishes to the trustee of your Superannuation Fund about who you would like to receive your death benefit in the event of your death.  The trustee of the Super Fund then has the ultimate discretion about who will receive that benefit.

What is a binding death benefit nomination?

A binding death benefit nomination is a binding nomination made by you.  It tells or directs the trustee of your Superannuation Fund who they should pay your death benefit to in the event of your death.  The binding death benefit nominations usually expire after three years, however in some circumstances for Self-Managed Super Funds, you can do a non-lapsing nomination.

It is important to understand that there are only certain types of people who you can nominate under a binding death benefit nomination.  These include a spouse, including a de facto, children in some circumstances including step children, dependents, inter-dependents, and also your estate.  As you can see, giving away your Superannuation after your death can be a complex matter, therefore it’s very important that you seek financial and legal advice about making your nominations and about deciding who to give your death benefit to.  There can be significant tax consequences for adult children and it is also important to make sure that your wishes are carried out in the event of your death.

Superannuation and estate administration

Part of the administration of an estate may require superannuation to be dealt with.  This can be a complex part of the administration especially because superannuation does not automatically form part of an estate and because superannuation is becoming an increasingly significant asset.

Challenging superannuation

There are avenues available to challenge where a superannuation death benefit is paid.  However, this will depend on the type of superannuation, the type of death benefit nomination made and the nature of a claimant’s relationship with the deceased.

Whether you are acting for an estate where the deceased had superannuation or where you are someone who believes you should have been provided with a share of the superannuation of the deceased, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible as there are strict time limits that apply to making these claims.