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By the time many Australians reach maturity or retirement age, the balance of their super is often a decent sum. A common mistake in many wills drafted by non-professionals is to include instructions on who is to receive super money after the person dies.

It is important to note that super is managed by a Trustee on behalf of the fund. The Trustee makes their decision on who is to receive the death benefit of a member who has died in accordance with legal guidelines as well as any binding death nominations that the member provided to the fund before they died. If the member had completed a binding death nomination form and nominated any person(s) as their benefactors, then the Trustee must distribute the death benefit in accordance with that nomination.

But if there is no binding death nomination form, or it has expired because it was done more than 3 years ago, then the Trustee has discretion to give the death benefit to any persons they deem appropriate. As a result, super does not form part of your estate and any instructions in your will as to who will benefit from your death benefit is invalid.

If you or a loved one have a will that gives instructions on who is to benefit from your super and you are unsure whether a binding death nomination form has been completed with your super fund, it is crucial that you speak to one of our lawyers today to make sure proper arrangements can be made (including changing your will if necessary) to ensure your super is dealt in a way that you want it.