Superannuation – is it time to update your beneficiaries?

Not many people spend much time thinking about matters such as what will happen to your superannuation after you pass away. For a lot of people, it’s fill in a form with your fund when you register with them then set and forget. Did you know if you your beneficiaries on your superannuation account are non-binding that you need to update your beneficiaries every 3 years?

After watching a friend pay lawyers and go through the courts to access her husbands super after he sadly passed away late last year, I started researching binding and non-binding beneficiaries. My friend is actively telling everyone she knows to make sure they have a will in place but to also check your superannuation which can be handled separately in your estate so they don’t have to go through all she is right now. Here is what I found in my research:

Binding beneficiary nominations are legal statements that list who your superannuation should be paid to and will override what is listed in your Will. They need to be updated every three years (unless you have a SMSF) and when your circumstances change, ie. marriage, divorce, children etc. You can also direct how the money is divided, for example you can direct that it is more tax effective by leaving super to children under 18 years old.

With non-binding beneficiary nominations, the Trustee has final say in how the money is distributed, taking into account your non-binding beneficiary nomination and your will if you have one in place. By law they have to distribute to your financial dependents, so non financial dependents of your may miss out on the distribution. You should update your non-binding beneficiaries every 3 years and it’s important to not that the super fund Trustee are not required to follow the instructions in your will.

Is your super account set up as you want and have you updated your beneficiaries recently?

Which nomination is best for you depends on your personal circumstances and you should seek financial advice on these matters.