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Superannuation and Your Will


happy family jumping together on the beachWhy is Superannuation Different to Any Other Assets I Own?

Superannuation is not automatically distributed as other financial assets in your will.  Below are some common questions and answers but it is recommended that you seek specific advice from your lawyer so that your benefits will distributed according to your wishes.

Strictly you do not own your super, it is held in trust and under superannuation law and the trust deeds for your funds, the Trustee has discretion and obligation in determining where it will go.   The focus is on dependence because the purpose of superannuation is to provide for fund members and their dependents, either in retirement or after a member dies.

This can be to:

Your beneficiaries who may be one or more of the following:

  • your spouse (including de facto and same sex)
  • your children (including step, adopted or ex-nuptial)
  • any person(s) financially dependent on you
  • an interdependent – someone with whom you have a close personal relationship and you provide financial, domestic and personal support


Your estate which will be distributed according to your will.

Can I advise the Super Fund Trustee of my preferences ?

You can nominate the beneficiaries of your super fund by formally advising the trustee.

Most super trust deeds will allow you to nominate beneficiaries by:

Non-Binding Death Benefit Nomination – This will be a guide only for the trustee who will still retain ultimate discretion as to the dependent receiving your superannuation. They will take into account who you have nominated but are not legally bound to follow this direction.

Binding Death Benefit Nomination – This is a legally binding nomination and removes the discretion of the trustee of the superannuation fund so long as you nominate dependents that qualify as your legal dependents or as your legal personal representative.  This must be valid and correctly signed.  Generally Binding Death Benefit Nominations are valid for three years and may require a yearly cost.

What happens if there are no dependents?

If you have no defendants your superannuation benefits will be distributed according to the direction for your estate through your will

For many people superannuation is a significant amount of money and it is important that it ends up in the right place according to your wishes.

Professional advice should always be sought from your financial adviser or accountant and an experienced estate planning lawyer.

For further advice on superannuation and your will call Williams Barristers and Solicitors on (08) 84517609 today. Our experienced wills and estate lawyers in Adelaide will offer expert legal advice and guide you through each step of the way.

Further Information

Williams Wills and Estates Lawyers

Williams Lawyers Adelaide

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