Superannuation Complaints Tribunalts
Superannuation Complaints Tribunal
Editor: The Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) recently released its 2014/15 annual report, summarising the work of the Tribunal during a year which saw a 6.9% increase in the number of complaints finalised compared with the prior year.
Of particular interest was some guidance the report provided regarding the payment of death benefits from superannuation funds, possibly because the largest category of complaints the Tribunal determined at review (44.8%) was death complaints
This guidance is reproduced below.
“There are some common misconceptions about superannuation death benefits that can result in unexpected outcomes for the beneficiaries of a death benefit, and may result in a complaint being made to the Tribunal.
The most common misconception, arguably, related to the purpose of superannuation.
Broadly speaking, the purpose of superannuation is to provide income in retirement to members and their dependants; it does not form part of a person’s estate.
Accordingly, a superannuation death benefit should be paid to dependants and those who had a legal or moral right to look to the deceased member for financial support had they not died.
The ability of a superannuation fund to pay a death benefit directly to a dependant rather than to the state has a number of advantages.
Firstly, it ensures that the benefit is paid directly for the dependants and is not available to creditors who would be paid first from the assets of the estate.
Secondly, it can usually reach the beneficiaries quicker than if a grant of probate or letters of administration has to be obtained and the estate called in and distributed.
Thirdly, as a general rule, superannuation death benefits are protected from bankruptcy.
Therefore, even if the deceased member was bankrupt, or if the estate is insolvent, funds can be paid direct to the dependants to replace the income stream that may be lost as a consequence of the death.
However, if you would like to ensure that your superannuation is distributed a certain way then it is important to find out if your superannuation fund has the option for a binding nomination and if so, ensure you meet the requirements, including renewing your binding nomination every three years.”
Ref: Superannuation Complaints Tribunal 2014/15 annual report
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