Superannuation is not covered by a person’s will. Superannuation monies are tied to a superannuation fund which has a trustee who decides on payments. Unless a person takes positive steps to nominate a particular person to be the recipient of their superannuation funds (by way of a binding death benefit nomination) – then it is left to the trustee’s discretion to decide on the recipient of superannuation funds.
Aside from contractors and self-employed persons, most people younger than 55 at their time of death will have accrued superannuation monies. Nationally, there is billions of dollars of unclaimed superannuation.
The first obstacle to securing the superannuation of a lost loved one is finding it. This can seem daunting if the deceased changed industries and professions throughout their life. However, most industries have designated superannuation funds that are used by the majority of workers in that industry.
So, if trying to find superannuation you should start by;
Remember that there is a possibility the deceased used other superannuation funds.
The Australian Taxation Office website’s SuperSeeker service allows anyone to conduct a comprehensive search for a deceased person’s super, for free. You will however need to have basic details of the deceased, including their tax file number. Other tools exist but this should be your first point of call.
Under the superannuation laws, usually the only people who can benefit from a deceased’s superannuation are their:
However, if the deceased did not have a spouse, or any children, and no financial dependents, it may be open for the trustee of the superannuation fund to distribute the funds to anyone else in the deceased’s life who can show that they have a claim. This is a decision left to the trustee where the deceased did not leave a binding death benefit nomination.
In the event that the trustee of the superannuation decides to distribute the funds to a person who is not a spouse, a child or a financial dependent of the deceased, there may be tax consequences for the recipient. In this case, it is imperative that tax advice is sought by the potential recipient.
In the absence of a deceased leaving a binding death benefit nomination, the trustee will make a decision as to who the recipient of the superannuation funds will be, based on factors such as:
If you decide to make a superannuation claim you should make sure that you:
You can lodge a superannuation claim on your own. However, if you have any questions, believe you are in unique circumstances, or are interested in acquiring professional legal advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.