Not a lot of people are aware that superannuation is a non-estate asset. This means that it will not automatically be dealt with, through your Will if you were to pass away. It could be your wish that your partner receives your superannuation, and you could state in your Will that that is what you want to happen, but without a valid beneficiary nomination on your superannuation fund, the Trustee of the fund may grant your money elsewhere.
There are several varieties of nomination, including non-binding, binding, and non-lapsing binding beneficiary.
Nomination of Beneficiary
A ‘Nomination of Beneficiary’ is a direction that a member provides to the Trustee of the super fund in relation to distribution of his or her funds on death. It can be done by a simple one page document setting out the member’s preference and appropriately signed and witnessed.
A member can choose to make:
A Binding Nomination
- The Trustees MUST pay the death benefit as nominated.
A Non-binding Nomination
- The Trustees have the discretion to follow the stated wishes of the member or direct the entitlements to another person (or persons) or pay the entitlement directly to the Estate.
- If you do not make any nomination, you are not breaking any Laws. The surviving Trustees simply have full discretion to distribute the funds to the Estate or any Dependent that they chose.
As important as it is to ensure that you have nomination made, it is important to make sure that it is a valid nomination.
Who can I nominate?
There are restrictions on who you can nominate under the Superannuation Industry Supervision Act (SIS). Valid nominations can be made to:
- The Legal Personal Representative in which case the benefit is paid to the Estate; or
- A dependant which is defined as follows:
- Spouse (current or de facto or former spouse and can include same-sex and living with a person in a genuine domestic basis in a relationship as a couple);
- A child of the member (including adopted, stepchild, ex-nuptial, child of your spouse);
- Any other person with whom the member has an interdependency relationship, which covers persons where there is a close personal relationship and one or more provides the other with financial support, domestic support and personal care. We recommend seeking advice if you have circumstances that you think may qualify.
Common mistakes that we see are Nominations being made to parents, brothers or sisters or other relatives, but there is no interdependent relationship so the Nomination is invalid. A Nomination can have “if, then” clauses to allow you to nominate persons should certain beneficiaries have already passed away – such as “100% distribution to my spouse. If I survive my spouse, or if I divorce from current spouse, then distribute to my children on equal proportionate basis”.
So please ensure that you review your beneficiaries and ensure that they are the right type for your situation, and valid. If you would like to update your superannuation beneficiaries or have a chat to one of our financial advisors, we are always here to help. Please get in touch with our team.
Steve Reynolds – Certified Financial Planner