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Changed your Facebook relationship status? Read on if you don’t want your super to go to your ex

14 March 2017

Next time you update your relationship status on Facebook, take a minute to think whether you should also update who’ll receive your super if you die. And think about your will as well. We’ve encountered situations where people have missed out on receiving their partner’s super benefit after they died because their nomination lapsed, hadn’t been completed properly, or hadn’t met the legal rules. Or, they didn’t have a will in place.

Superannuation law is quite specific about who your super benefit can be paid to – it can’t be paid to just anyone. So when nominating the beneficiaries for your super account, make sure you only nominate those people who are eligible. These are your dependants as set out under superannuation law, and/or your legal personal representative.

Your dependants

These are your spouse (including a de facto or same sex partner who lives with you), your children, a financial dependant, or someone who is in an interdependent relationship with you. This generally means your super can’t be paid to your parents, siblings or close friends unless they fall into one of these categories. More details are set out in the Nominating your beneficiaries form on our website.

Your legal personal representative

This is usually the executor of your will or administrator of your estate. Your legal personal representative will distribute your super, along with your other assets, in accordance with your will if you have one. In your will, you may choose to pay some of your super to someone who is not your dependant.

Note: The amount of tax payable, if any, on your super benefit if you die will be determined based on who the benefit is paid to. Refer to the Tax on super fact sheet on our website for more information.

Types of nominations

You can make two different types of beneficiary nominations for your super account:

  1. A binding nomination means your super fund must pay your super in accordance with your instructions, provided it is valid and the people you have nominated remain eligible at the date of your death. A binding nomination is valid for three years.
  2. A non-binding nomination gives your super fund a guide to who you’d like your super to be paid to, but your wishes aren’t binding. The trustee of your super fund will make the final decision on how your super is distributed.

And if you’ve got an Income Account (regular income stream) with Qantas Super, you also have the choice of making a reversionary binding nomination. This means your regular income payments continue to be paid to your beneficiary if you die, or they can choose to take the amount left in your Income Account as a lump sum. You can only nominate your spouse or child (who’s under 18, or under age 25 if they are financially dependant on you, or any age and qualifies because of a disability) as your reversionary beneficiary.

How do I make a beneficiary nomination?

To make a binding nomination, you’ll need to complete the Nominating your beneficiary form on our website. You’ll need to have your signature witnessed for a binding nomination.

For super accounts, you can also make a non-binding nomination using the same form, or simply log into your account and update your beneficiaries for a non-binding nomination online.

If you don’t nominate anyone

If you haven’t made a nomination, the trustee will decide how your super is distributed between your dependants and/or legal personal representative.

Other things to consider

There may also be estate planning implications to consider when nominating your beneficiaries – a licensed financial adviser will be able to guide you. Call us on 1300 362 967 to speak to a financial adviser who is familiar with Qantas Super. The first session is at no extra cost.

Below you’ll find two anonymised case studies, which are based on actual events. They’re included here only as examples. Again, it’s important to seek financial advice before making a decision about your super.

Case studies

Before you read these case studies, keep in mind that, in both instances, the gender of the couples doesn’t play a role. Under superannuation law, same sex and de facto partners have the same status for super benefits

Fred and Charlie

Fred and his partner Charlie had been a couple for 14 years. They lived separately and had separate finances but considered themselves a de facto couple. Then Fred died unexpectedly.

Fred didn’t leave a will, but he had made a non-binding nomination naming his partner as the beneficiary of his $250,000 superannuation benefit. However, due to their separate lives, his partner didn’t meet the legal definition of being Fred’s dependant – and by law, a trustee can only give a death benefit to a dependant or legal personal representative.

Therefore the trustee’s only option under law was to pay the benefit to Fred’s estate. Fred’s sister applied to be the executor of Fred’s estate and as she was his only close relative, she inherited Fred’s estate, including his death benefit.

Had Fred made a will naming his partner as a beneficiary of his assets, then Fred’s wishes would have been fulfilled.

Jack and Rose

Jack and Rose were married for 20 years and had two grown-up children when they decided to separate. They never got around to getting formally divorced nor had Jack changed his will or binding nomination of beneficiary form, which both named Rose as his sole beneficiary.

Almost two years later, Jack met a new partner who had a young daughter, and they moved into his apartment. Unfortunately, shortly after this, Jack died. In this situation, the trustee was bound to pay all of Jack’s super benefit to Rose. This is because Rose was still legally Jack’s spouse at the time he died, so his binding nomination, which had been made within the last three years, was still valid. When there’s a valid binding nomination, the Trustee is legally required to follow those instructions.

Had Jack updated his binding beneficiary nomination after separating from Rose, his super would have been distributed based on his new circumstances. In addition, the situation caused Jack’s current and former families additional stress at an already difficult time.

 

 

 

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