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SMSF’s and the importance of death benefit nominations


In the realm of superannuation, a "death benefit nomination" is a crucial legal document that empowers members to outline their preferences for the distribution of their superannuation benefits after they pass away. This legal instrument plays a pivotal role in ensuring that your hard-earned superannuation savings and associated life insurance benefits are passed on according to your wishes.

Primarily, there are two types of nominations:


1. Binding Death Benefit Nomination: This nomination carries legal weight, obliging the superannuation fund trustee to adhere strictly to your specified instructions. It allows you to clearly define the individuals or entities, such as family members or a legal representative, who should be the rightful recipients of your superannuation benefits upon your passing. 2. Non-binding Death Benefit Nomination: In this case, your nomination acts as a guiding document for the trustee. While it provides insight into your preferences regarding the distribution of death benefits, it is not legally binding. The trustee maintains the discretion to consider your preferences alongside other pertinent factors, like your financial dependents and other relevant circumstances.


The absence of a binding death benefit nomination can lead to a multitude of complications:

1. Uncertainty in Beneficiary Designation: In the absence of a BDBN, the trustee holds the authority to determine how the death benefits will be allocated among the potential beneficiaries. This can create significant uncertainty and even disputes among family members and other potential claimants. 2. Delays in Distribution: The lack of a binding nomination can result in delays in the distribution of death benefits to intended beneficiaries. The trustee may need to undertake a comprehensive investigation into the member's family and financial situation to determine the rightful recipients, which can be time-consuming and may create financial hardship for surviving family members. 3. Legal Disputes: The absence of clear member instructions can lead to disputes among family members or other parties vying for a share of the death benefits. This often culminates in costly legal proceedings that not only delay distribution but can also strain relationships within the family. 4. Tax Implications: The tax treatment of death benefits can vary based on the relationship between the deceased member and the beneficiary. A binding death benefit nomination can help ensure that benefits are distributed in a tax-efficient manner in alignment with the member's intentions. 5. Addressing Financial Needs: If there are specific individuals or dependents you wish to provide for, such as a surviving spouse, children, or other financial dependents, a binding death benefit nomination is instrumental in ensuring their financial well-being. Without such a nomination, the trustee may not prioritize these preferences when distributing the benefits. Talk to one of our friendly team if you would like to know more about this or superannuation in general.

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