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Home Super & retirement Account management Beneficiaries & estate planning

Beneficiaries & estate planning

Do you know who will receive your super when you pass away? A few simple steps can give you peace of mind and save your loved ones from uncertainty at a time of stress and hardship.

Beneficiaries & estate planning

Super doesn’t automatically form part of your estate, which means that it does not automatically get distributed according to your Will. To ensure your wishes are met, it’s important to make a valid beneficiary nomination to advise how you would like your super to be distributed.

There are three kinds of beneficiaries available:

Non-binding

Available in super & pension accounts.
If you make a non-binding nomination, the trustee will have the final say over which beneficiaries receive your super and in what proportions, but your nominations will be considered.

Binding

Available in super & pension accounts.
If you make a binding nomination that satisfies all legal requirements, the trustee of the super fund must pay your super to the beneficiaries you have nominated in the proportions specified.

Reversionary

Only available in pension accounts.
A nominated reversionary beneficiary continues to receive your pension after your death, your pension is transferred to their name instead of being paid out as a lump sum.

Who can be a beneficiary?

You can nominate the following individuals to receive your superannuation benefit:

  • Spouse (legal and/or de facto);
  • Children (including step, adopted, ex-nuptial);
  • A financial dependant at the date of death; and
  • A person who is in an interdependent relationship with you at the time of your death.

A Dependant is defined as:
(a) the spouse of the person, any child of the person and any person with whom the person has an interdependency relationship at the relevant time (being in the case of a deceased person the date of their death); and
(b) any other person who in the opinion of the Trustee is at the relevant time (being in the case of a deceased person the date of their death) wholly or partially dependent on the person.

Interdependency
Two persons have a interdependent relationship if:
(a) they have a close personal relationship;
(b) they live together;
(c) one or each of them provides the other with financial support; and
(d) one or each of them provides the other with domestic support and personal care. 

Two people have an interdependency if they have a close personal relationship but do not satisfy the other requirements of an interdependency relationship because either or both of them suffer from physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability.

If you wish your benefit to pass in accordance with your Will, or if you do not wish to nominate a dependant, or you have no dependant to nominate, you may instruct the Trustee to pay your benefits to your legal personal representative. Your nomination should be carefully considered and updated regularly, or whenever your personal circumstances change.

If you don’t nominate someone specifically, the Trustee may decide to:

  • Pay your estate so that benefits are divided according to your Will. If you die without a Will, your benefits will be divided according to a state-based formula; or 
  • Look for eligible beneficiaries and pay them directly.

So, without beneficiaries, your super may not end up where you intended. Even if it ends up in the right hands, it can take longer to get there.

Non-binding beneficiary nomination

A non-binding beneficiary nomination provides a guide to the legalsuper Trustee in deciding who will receive your superannuation benefits, (including any insured benefits applicable) in the event of your death, this is referred to as your death benefit. This type of nomination is not legally binding; however, it will be taken into consideration along with the rules set out in legalsuper’s Trust Deed and superannuation legislation.

How do I make a non-binding beneficiary nomination?
To make a non-binding beneficiary nomination, you can login to MemberAccess and complete the nominations under the beneficiaries section.


Alternatively you can download and complete the appropriate change of details form for your account type. Remember to make sure that your allocation totals 100%. 

Superannuation member:

Superannuation member change of details (102.87 KB)


Pension member:

Pension change details (97.97 KB)

You can check who your nominated beneficiary/ies are on your Annual Statement or via MemberAccess.

Binding beneficiary nomination

A binding beneficiary nomination is a formal written direction provided from a member to legalsuper, to tell us who you want your account balance paid to in the event of death. It is a legally binding document. A valid Binding nomination of dependant(s) or legal personal representative (estate) will bind the Trustee to pay your entitlements on your death exactly as you specify. Your nomination will only be valid and binding if it is made in accordance with the relevant requirements. A binding nomination comes into effect from the date we accept it and expires three years from the date you sign the form. You can change or cancel your nomination at any time.

How can I make a binding beneficiary nomination?
You can set up or change your binding nomination by downloading and completing a valid change of details form for your account type.

Superannuation member:

Superannuation member change of details (102.87 KB)


Pension member:

Pension change details (97.97 KB)


Your nomination should be carefully considered and updated regularly, or whenever your personal circumstances change.

Reversionary beneficiaries

A reversionary beneficiary can only apply to a legalsuper pension account. It cannot apply to a Personal super or Employer-sponsored super accumulation account.

A reversionary beneficiary is the person who will receive the balance of your death benefit as an income stream. Only spouses, certain children and dependants are eligible to become reversionary beneficiaries. 

You can only nominate one person as a reversionary beneficiary. A valid reversionary beneficiary nomination is binding on legalsuper and can only be established when creating a new pension account. A reversionary beneficiary cannot be nominated on an existing account. 

For more information, please refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement:

Additional Information, Employer Sponsored & Personal Super - Product Disclosure Statement (597.93 KB)


Pension Product Disclosure Statement (884.35 KB)



Beneficiaries & tax

There can be tax and asset-protection consequences when making nominations, and so we suggest that you consider obtaining estate planning advice.

Superannuation death benefits are taxed depending on who your beneficiaries are and the breakdown of tax-free and taxable components of your fund.

Your spouse, dependants, and those you have an interdependent relationship with are all able to receive your superannuation death benefit completely free of tax.

The tax-free component of your superannuation will always remain tax-free, regardless of whom your beneficiary is. Any non-dependant beneficiaries, however, will be taxed on your super’s taxable component. The most common non-dependant beneficiaries are adult children. These non-dependant beneficiaries are commonly children over the age of 18 and they will pay 15% tax plus 2% Medicare Levy on the taxable component.

Where a super death benefit is directed to your Legal Personal Representative (your estate), the taxable component will not be charged the additional 2% Medicare Levy.

Super & your estate

Superannuation is not an estate asset and will not automatically get distributed according to your Will. Super has its own distinct legal structure where the trustee acts in accordance with the Trust Deed.

Due to this structure, your super needs to be considered separate from your Will when putting together an estate plan.