Super death benefits

Don't leave behind a financial mess

When someone dies, it can be a tough time for the family - emotionally and financially. Disputes over money can drive families apart.

Spend a few minutes filling in the form saying where your money should go if you die. This will give comfort for you and your family, and avoid confusion and delays at the worst possible time.

Who gets your super if you die

If you die, your super fund trustee normally pays your death benefit to one or more of your dependants or to your estate.

Smart tip

Update your nominations if your marital status changes or you have children.

For super death benefits, the term 'dependants' includes:

  • Your spouse (this includes same-sex de facto partners)
  • Your children
  • People with whom you had an interdependency relationship
  • People who depend on you financially

Most super funds let you nominate who you want your death benefit paid to, either as a non-binding or binding nomination.

If you don't nominate someone, the super fund trustee will decide who your money goes to. This can lead to delays and may cause fights in your family.

Binding nomination

A binding nomination leaves your super fund trustee with no choice as to who gets your death benefit.

You choose whether the money goes to:

  • One or more dependants; or
  • Your legal personal representative, who must pay out the money according to your will

Non-binding nomination

A non-binding nomination guides the super fund trustee on who will get your super benefits. However, the trustee still has the final say, especially if you nominate someone who doesn't depend on you. The trustee is not required to follow the instructions in your will.

How much is the death benefit?

The total amount of money or 'death benefit' includes the money in the deceased's super account at the time of death plus any life insurance cover through the super fund.

Death benefit = super account balance + any life insurance payment

Defined benefit funds sometimes have different payment rules. If you're in a defined benefit fund, contact the fund to find out more.

Claiming super death benefits

If you have to make a claim for death benefits, contact the deceased's super fund and find out exactly what you need to do. It's a good idea to take notes and ask the trustee to send you copies of all the relevant forms and policies. This process may take several months, depending on the circumstances.

Making choices about your super death benefits is very important. Discuss your plans with your family and close friends so there are no surprises if they ever need to make a claim.

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Last updated: 10 Oct 2017