Superannuation funds are not bound by your Will and your appeals against their decisions are limited. You should complete a binding death benefit statement confirming who should receive your superannuation on your death. If this form is filled out correctly and it is current then you could avoid your entitlements being paid to someone else, or the government.  We can assist you with completing these forms.

Since that previous newsletter we have discovered that certain superannuation funds are refusing to allow members to complete binding death benefit forms on the basis that the superannuation trustees will decide who receives the money upon the death of the member.

Obviously this is concerning, as you will not be alive and therefore cannot respond to their decision. Even if your family has a basis to appeal the decision, this will involve time and cost that might be saved if the fund would simply allow you to nominate your beneficiaries.

One of the large superannuation funds has a policy that they will pay the money to the spouse or de facto, and if you are not survived by a de facto or spouse they will decide who to pay it to (probably they will next look for people who were financially dependant upon you).  As you are no longer alive, you are not able to say whether or not a person was your de facto, or financially dependant upon you. The potential for abuse of this system is concerning. For example, in our experience some people still have de facto relationships without telling their families or other loved ones for various reasons, and so a submission by your family that they were not aware of the de facto relationship may not be enough to defeat that person’s claim.

The simplest way to check whether or not your superannuation company is still allowing you to nominate a beneficiary is to check your last statement, or call them. If your superannuation company is not allowing you to nominate a beneficiary then how you respond is a matter for yourself, you might change funds, or you might obtain some advice from us about the fund’s policy, and statements you could prepare in anticipation of any false claims.