Did you know that superannuation proceeds are not part of an estate of a deceased person unless the trustee of the superannuation fund actually pays the proceeds into the estate of the deceased person? This leads to beneficiaries launching superannuation claims in the event that the proceeds are not distributed according to the deceased’s wishes.
Upon the death of a member of a superannuation fund, the primary position is that the trustee of the fund has an absolute discretion in paying the superannuation proceeds to one or more persons who are defined under superannuation law as “dependents”. The word “dependents” in fact means the following persons
(a) A spouse;
(b) A child below or over the age of 18 years;
(c) A person who is actually in a relationship of dependency with the member of the fund;
(d) A person who is actually in a relationship of interdependency with the member of the fund.
Where a valid binding nomination is in place, and the trustee of the superannuation fund distributes the proceeds of the super pursuant to that valid binding nomination not a lot can be done in most of Australia, including Queensland. However, we find that very few people have a valid binding death nomination in place.
You may wish to establish a self-managed superannuation fund to avoid these issues, although you may not be completely immune from superannuation claims. Other advantages of self-managed super funds include flexibility, control and the ability to make changes as your circumstances change.
We are able to assist people who fall within the definition of a dependent for superannuation claims purposes. Firstly we can assist in an application to the trustee of the superannuation fund to ask the fund to exercise its discretion to make provision. Further, where the matter escalates, and there is a dispute, we are able to assist our clients in an application to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.