The hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ve saved up through your superannuation could be a risk.

Without taking care when nominating who will receive these benefits after you die, your family could be left out of payments you worked hard to earn.

Superannuation funds rank alongside the family home as the assets you need to consider when planning your estate. However, you may not realise superannuation is not handled in the same way as other assets in your will.

Can I put my superannuation in my will?

The simple answer is no. A superannuation fund cannot be transferred to someone else upon death, but there are ways to ensure your family can still benefit from receiving payments if those are your wishes.

In order to ensure they get your superannuation, you must make a binding death benefit nomination. Be warned, superannuation funds trustees are often unaware about how this works as one family discovered.

A case in Queensland saw the family of a recently deceased man not receive their superannuation binding death benefits. This was because the trustees of the fund refused to give effect to the nomination because they believed it was not binding on them.

Superannuation funds are able to pay out a death benefit without a binding nomination to your dependents. However, this is only at the discretion of the trustee of the fund.

If the intended beneficiary does not fall under the legal definition of a superannuation death benefit recipient, sometimes the trustee can give the payments to the member’s estate and then this will be allocated according to the member’s will.

How can I make sure my family get a superannuation death benefit?

Because trustees of superannuation funds have ultimate discretion as to whether to distribute funds to a your family, make sure you set up a binding death benefit nomination which the trustee must carry out.

This nomination allows you to specify to your superannuation fund who should receive death benefits after you die, and this is able to be enforced by law.

These types of binding death benefits can be set up so they expire every three years or last indefinitely.

Binding death benefit nominations must be made in writing, be signed by you and witnessed, plus the intended beneficiary must meet the requirements of relevant death benefit laws, such as being your dependent.

For more information about laws around superannuation, contact a lawyer with expertise in claims at PK Simpson Solicitors.