We receive a number of enquiries from various people trying to locate a loved one’s superannuation. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule to locating a deceased’s superannuation.
What can I do to locate the lost or unclaimed superannuation?
Firstly, it may be useful speaking to family and friends to determine whether they are aware of any funds held on behalf of the deceased.
The next step is to contact some of the industry superannuation funds directly to enquire about the deceased’s superannuation.
What if I am unable to obtain information from an industry superannuation fund?
If you are unable to obtain any information from making enquiries with some of the industry superannuation funds, you may try contacting the deceased’s employer to:
- enquire whether any superannuation was being paid, and if so, to what fund; and
- obtain the deceased’s tax file number.
However, it will be the case that if you are not the executor or administrator of the estate, the deceased’s employer is unlikely to provide you with any information due to privacy reasons.
If you are not the executor or administrator, it is best to ask them to contact the deceased’s employer directly.
What if the deceased’s employer does not have any information in relation to the deceased’s superannuation?
As a last step to locate a deceased’s superannuation, you can contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The ATO maintains a record of lost members who have superannuation. Your superannuation fund will report you as a lost member if either:
- they have not been able to contact you; or
- they have not received any contributions or rollover amounts for you in the last five years; or
- your account was transferred from another fund as a lost member account and no new address has been found.
Also, importantly, from 1 July 2019 superannuation providers will be required to pay inactive low-balance accounts to the ATO. ATO will hold these funds on behalf of the member.
Once superannuation has been found, who is able to claim a deceased’s death benefit?
As a general rule, death benefits are payable to a deceased’s members dependents (including a surviving spouse, children, dependent or interdependent) or to the deceased’s legal representative (the estate).
In the absence of a member having a Binding Death Benefit Nomination form in place, the superannuation fund trustee has the discretion to decide how the death benefit is distributed and to which of the dependents.
If a member has Binding Death Benefit Nomination in place, then the superannuation fund trustee must pay the death benefit in accordance with that nomination.
If you have any questions regarding unclaimed superannuation or deceased super, please contact our team today to discuss your legal options.