Burgess Thomson Lawyers


Wills & Estate Planning

we're here for all advice on your superannuation

For many retirees, superannuation can be their biggest asset after their home or any other real estate they may own. It is generally assumed that it is dealt with under one’s Will when they pass away but superannuation death benefits do not automatically form part of an estate and cannot be dealt with primarily through a Will.

A Will only covers personal assets you own, not including superannuation. Thus, if you wish to direct your super to someone upon your death, you must sign a Binding Death Benefit Nomination (BDBN). If you pass without signing a nomination, the super is usually paid at the discretion of the trustee of the superannuation fund. A BDBN can either be lapsing or non-lapsing. Lapsing nominations must be renewed every three years, while non-lapsing nominations will stay in place until the trustee receives a new or updated nomination.

At Burgess Thomson we can help to witness and guide you through making a death benefit nomination. You can nominate your legal representative, us, as the beneficiary of your superannuation money, which will then be distributed according to your Will. In order for this to take effect, you must include a superannuation clause in your Will and keep the Binding Nomination and the beneficiaries in your Will up to date.

Arrange a consultation with our specialist Wills & Estates Lawyers in Newcastle.


What is a binding death benefit nomination?

This is a written document to your superannuation trustee which will set out how you wish for some or all of your superannuation to be distributed. There are two types of Binding Death Benefit Nominations (BDBN) – lapsing or non-lapsing. A lapsing BDBN will have to be renewed every three years whereas the non-lapsing BDBN will remain in place unless it is received by the Trustee or it is updated by yourself.

What happens if you do not make a Binding Nomination?

If you do not make a Binding Nomination or it has expired at the time of your passing, the trustee of your fund has two options. They can either pay all the money directly to your estate or they can decide which of your beneficiaries should receive the money. Other considerations include any tax that might be payable by beneficiaries of your superannuation.

Who can I leave my superannuation money to?

In the event of your death, your super fund must pay a death benefit to one or more people in your life who are eligible. Your eligible super beneficiaries include:

  • Your spouse (including de facto and same sex partners) but not a former spouse
  • Your children regardless of age
  • Anybody who may be financially dependent on you when you die
  • Your estate or legal representative.

If you are unsure as to whether the person or people you have in mind are able to be left your superannuation, Burgess Thomson can discuss this with you and provide advice in this regard.

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