Upon death, superannuation is considered a trust asset, it is not an asset of a deceased’s estate.
In many cases, the funds that make up the deceased’s superannuation will not only comprise the deceased’s member account balance, but also a death benefit payment. Sometimes, this significantly increases the value of the trust asset.
If the deceased member had a valid Binding Death Benefit Nomination, the trustee of the superannuation fund will be bound by that Binding Death Benefit Nomination.
However, if a deceased member did not have a Binding Death Benefit Nomination, the trustees of the fund will be entitled to exercise their discretion to determine who will receive the deceased’s superannuation death benefit.
Should I be lodging a superannuation death benefits claim?
If you were the spouse, de facto partner, child or in a close personal relationship with a deceased member, you may be eligible to make a claim for their superannuation death benefits.
You are not always going to be made aware of your eligibility to make a superannuation death benefits claim; therefore, you should consider it your responsibility to investigate your position and seek advice.
Things to consider when making a superannuation death benefits claim
- There is no legislated time frame for a person to be considered a de facto partner, or an interdependent of a deceased. This is different to making a family provision application in Queensland, where it is necessary to have been living with the deceased on a genuine domestic basis for a minimum period of 2 years ending on the deceased’s death.
- It is important to consider the superannuation fund’s trust deed. All superannuation funds are governed by a trust deed. In some cases, there are terms in the trust deed which direct the trustee of the superannuation fund to make payment to the deceased’s dependents where there is no Binding Death Benefit Nomination.
- If a superannuation fund trustee has exercised its discretion improperly, you are entitled to make a complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. This is an external body with the ability to consider the decision and either affirm, vary, set aside or substitute the decision.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to seek advice in relation to making a superannuation death benefits claim.