Superannuation Death Benefit Nominations – Get it right or else!

The recent judgment of the Court in Munro and Anor (2015) QSC 61 is a timely reminder to Lawyers, Accountants and others involved in the preparation of Superannuation Binding Death Benefit Nominations, Directives and Agreements, to ensure that the proposed beneficiaries of a deceased’s Superannuation Member’s Death Benefit are correctly and precisely specified in accordance with the provisions of the Superannuation Trust Deed.

In light of the Munro decision, it is no longer sufficient for Superannuation Practitioners and Fund Members to merely provide generic and/or imprecise details of the persons or classes of persons to whom a Member’s Death Benefit will pass upon the death of a member.

In particular, as is provided in many, if not most Self-Managed Superannuation Trust Deeds, the intended nominee to be noted on a Binding Death Benefit Nomination is a named person or alternatively “the personal representatives named in (my last Will),” or similar wording.

In Munro’s case, the Self-Managed Superannuation Trust Deed provided that where there was an intention to pay or transfer the Member’s Death Benefit to the Member’s estate upon death, the nomination document must state the intended recipient of such funds to be “the member’s legal personal representative”.  However, instead of following the instructions and requirements as contained within the Superannuation Trust Deed, the deceased stated that the intended recipient of his Superannuation Member’s Death Benefit was to be “the Trustee of deceased estate”, which was found by Justice Mullens to be an incorrect and inadequate nomination and the deceased’s intentions as set out in the Binding Death Benefit Nomination were therefore not put into effect.

In summary, following the decision in the Munro case, it is absolutely critical and important, at the time of completing and signing a Superannuation Binding Death Benefit Nomination, that the exact terminology as set out in and required by the Superannuation Trust Deed, be followed.  We strongly recommend, if any doubt exists at all, a Lawyer experienced in the interpretation of Superannuation Trust Deeds be consulted for advice as to the correct terminology to be used in such Binding Death Benefit Nomination or Directive document.