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Who gets your superannuation when you die?

Written by Gabriella Ferraro

Superannuation does not automatically form part of your estate after you die. In fact, there are many assets and investments, including superannuation which sits outside the scope of your Will.

Instead, it is at the discretion of the super trustee to decide who gets your superannuation.

What is a beneficiary?

A superannuation beneficiary is someone who can receive any proceeds from your super account when you die. By nominating a beneficiary, you’re telling your super fund who you’d like yours to be.

Can I just nominate a beneficiary?

Absolutely – however, there is a difference between a nominated or binding beneficiary.

There are two general options people have for how their superannuation is distributed.

Non-binding nomination: where a person nominates where they want the funds to go but it is up to the superfund trustee’s discretion.


The Australian Taxation Office also states that where a deceased person has not nominated a beneficiary, the trustee may pay it to the deceased’s estate for the executor to distribute it according to the instructions in their will.


Binding death nomination: a legally binding nomination that allows you to advise the trustee who is to receive your superannuation benefit in the event of your death.

It is important to note that there are specific guidelines and requirements when completing a binding death nomination form and caution should be taken to ensure forms will be accepted by the trustee.


Who can I nominate?

In the event of your death, your super fund must pay a death benefit to one or more people who are eligible. Your eligible super beneficiaries might include:

· your spouse (including de facto and same sex partners)

· your children, regardless of age

· anybody financially dependent on you when you die

· your estate or legal personal representative

How will the money be taxed?

Different tax treatment can apply depending on whether your superannuation is paid as a lump sum, income stream or mixture of both, and if your beneficiary or beneficiaries are classified as ‘tax dependents’. You should seek advice from your accountant as to how a payment to your beneficiary may be taxed after your passing.

This information provided in this article is general advice only. Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

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F: (03) 9311 9915

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