Superannuation generally does not form part of your estate.  This means that when you pass away, your superannuation is not automatically transferred to your loved ones under your will.

A valid death benefit nomination is one way to ensure that your superannuation and any life insurances you might hold within superannuation, your superannuation death benefit is paid to the right person(s) upon your death.

A valid nomination directs the trustee of your superannuation fund to pay your superannuation death benefit, to your preferred loved one(s).  The nomination is commonly referred to as a ‘beneficiary nomination’ or ‘binding / non-binding death benefit nomination’.

If your death benefit nomination is invalid or you do not have one at the time of your passing, then the trustee of your superannuation fund has the discretion to decide who will receive your death benefit, regardless of what is written in your will, which may not align with your wishes.

Who can be a super beneficiary?

Superannuation can only be paid to a certain class of beneficiaries known as dependants.  Dependants who are eligible to receive your super benefit include:

  • your spouse (including de facto, opposite and same-sex relationships)
  • your children of any age (including biological, step and/or adopted children)
  • any person(s) financially dependent on you at the time of your passing
  • an interdependent relationship (e.g. two people who have a close personal relationship, living together, who provides financial, domestic and personal care to one another)
  • your personal legal representative (estate)

Nominating a beneficiary

You can nominate a beneficiary by completing your superannuation fund’s death benefit nomination form.  There are strict compliance requirements to ensure your nomination is valid.

Generally speaking, nominations lapse 3 years from the date that the nomination is signed.

Some superannuation funds allow non-lapsing death benefit nominations which means that the nomination will continue until you update or revoke the nomination.

You can renew, change, update or revoke your nomination at any time.  However, we recommend reviewing your death benefit nomination (and your estate planning documents such as your will and enduring power of attorney) each year, or whenever your personal circumstances change to ensure each of your estate planning documents still reflect your wishes.  This could be done at the same time as you prepare your tax returns.

Please call our experienced Wills & Estates Team at WGC Lawyers to discuss how we can assist you with preparing your estate planning documents, including a death benefit nomination.