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  • Gabriella Ferraro

Part II: Estate Planning - Superannuation and Binding Death Benefit Nominations

Written by Gabriella Ferraro

This is the second part of our two part series on Estate Planning: Binding Death Benefit Nominations and Superannuation.

Estate planning refers to the process of organising your financial affairs so that your wealth is distributed in a tax-effective manner after your death. Even if you have little assets, you should regularly review your estate plan to ensure it deals with your current circumstances. A major aspect of that plan is considering your superannuation and how the death benefit will be paid after your death. In particular, this article focuses on a valid binding death benefit nomination (BDBN).

Recap: What is a BDBN?

A legally binding written direction from a member to the superannuation trustee setting out how they wish for some or all of their superannuation death benefits to be distributed. The benefit of this is that it allows a superannuation death benefit to be distributed in accordance with the member’s wishes. A BDBN is typically only valid for a period of three (3) years and will lapse after this time if the nomination is not renewed.

How do you make a valid BDBN?

To make a valid nomination, the nomination must:

1. be made to the trustee in writing and clearly set out the proportion of the benefit to be paid to each person nominated;

2. be signed by the member in the presence of two witnesses over 18 years of age and who are not named as beneficiaries;

3. contain a signed witness declaration; and

4. be sent to the trustee, as a nomination will not be considered valid until its received by the trustee.

What if the nomination is invalid?

The Trustee will still consider your wishes if the nomination is invalid, however, the Trustee will use their discretion when paying out the death benefit and ultimately make the decision as to who receives the benefit.

Examples of an invalid nomination include:

  • your nomination being made more than three years ago;

  • the form being incorrectly signed and witnessed; or

  • nominated individuals no longer qualifying as your dependents at the date of your death.

The benefits of a BDBN


  • can be renewed, revoked, changed or updated at any time;

  • ensures the death benefit is distributed in accordance with the member’s wishes;

  • allows for a more timely distribution of the death benefit to the beneficiary; and

  • can be useful for tax planning and broader estate planning.

The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. This information should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a solicitor.

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