There is currently more than $1.94 trillion inside superannuation in Australia. Indeed, for most Australians, superannuation represents their biggest source of individual savings – whether it is as a result of voluntary contributions you have made, or from compulsory contributions paid by employers under the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) scheme.
Since the introduction of compulsory superannuation in the 1990’s, super has become one of the biggest sources of individual savings for many Australians.
Someone entering the workforce today will start earning superannuation from day one, setting themselves up for later life and creating less reliance on government hand-outs.
An individual can access their superannuation under certain conditions, most commonly reaching retirement age, but if a person passes away before meeting a relevant condition, a ‘super death benefit’ comes into force.
The ‘super death benefit’ is where a superannuation fund pays the remaining super to the person the account holder has chosen as their nominated beneficiary. If there are no binding death nominations, then the trustee of the super fund will decide how the benefit will be paid.
Just as much as you look at your bank account quite often (especially with internet banking these days), you should also keep an eye on your super account, not only to check in on your current balance but to make sure your beneficiary is up to date.
Ensuring your super is all in the one place is another big plus. When you switch jobs, there’s the likelihood that you will be put in a new super fund and this can create confusion and cost you significantly in fees.
It is important to be aware of the tax implications of ‘super death benefits’ as well.
According to the Australian Tax Office, the tax on a super death benefit depends on:
- whether the person receiving the benefit is a dependant or non-dependant of the deceased person
- whether the benefit is paid as a lump sum or superannuation income stream
- whether the super is taxable or tax free, and whether the super fund has already paid tax on the taxable component
- the age of the person receiving the benefit
- the age of the deceased person when they died.
Superannuation is not automatically considered as part of a deceased person’s estate.
That’s why it is vitally important that you declare who the beneficiary of your superannuation should be should you pass away, and have it clearly documented.
A superannuation death benefit can be paid as a lump sum, a pension or as a combination of both.
With superannuation very quickly becoming the leading source of savings for Australians, it’s important that the planning surrounding what happens to your superannuation funds upon your death is strong.
The advice of an accountant or expert in superannuation should be sought if a loved one passes away and there is a superannuation payout involved.