After the family home, superannuation is often the greatest source of a person’s wealth. It surprises many that superannuation is not an asset that normally passes to family members under the terms of a will.
Superannuation is dealt with under the terms of the Trust Deed (legal document) that sets up the superannuation fund and the superannuation legislation. It is the trustee of the fund that determines who will receive the superannuation monies upon your death. The options the trustee has includes paying the monies to your nominated beneficiary. The trustee is not bound to do this if your circumstances have changed unless you have a binding death benefit nomination in place. Usually a trustee will pay the superannuation monies to a dependent because favourable taxation consequences flow from such payments. As a last resort, the trustee may pay the monies to the executor to pass under the terms of the will, or if there is no will, upon intestacy.
If you are not satisfied with the trustee’s determination, most funds will allow for an internal review. If the distribution remains disputed then it is referred to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal for final determination.