Who gets the superannuation death benefit?
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A considerable proportion of our wealth now sits in superannuation. It is estimated that at the age of retirement (age 60-64) the average Australian will have over $200,000 in their superannuation fund (ASFA, 2017).

Therefore, the question of who gets the superannuation on death (ie. death benefits) is an important topic to consider for two main reasons:

- for estate planning

- to make, defend and resolve claims regarding superannuation.

Who controls the distribution of death benefits?

Superannuation fund account holder

An individual superannuation fund member can best manage the future distribution of their super fund balance (and influence future disputes) through nominating beneficiaries via particular superannuation funds.

The nomination process can vary between superannuation funds-some may have binding nominations and/or non-binding nominations. For valid binding nominations, the distributions will generally be set. For a valid non-binding nomination, while it will generally have first priority, the superannuation fund will in some trust deeds still have discretion. Therefore, the manner in which the super fund exercises its discretion may cause disappointments.

Overall, individuals planning their estate should ensure that their nominations are duly executed and regularly updated, to ensure they

remain current and effective.

When planning their estates, individuals should also nominate where they wish the death benefits to go, through a valid will. This is important as it is not unusual for super funds to pay the benefits to executor or administrator under the last will. Also the fund may take into account the preferences expressed in a will.

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