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“You cannot take it for granted that your loved ones or people that you want taken care of will be taken care of unless you got it down in writing.” - David Polson
Nominating who will be the beneficiary of your superannuation when you die can be confusing, so it is important to have the appropriate documentation that supports this nomination. Super funds can vary, so it is recommended that you regularly review your funds beneficiary's policy, which is tightly governed by federal law. It is never too early to take control over how your super benefits will be distributed when you die.
In the event of your death, prior too or after your retirement, your unclaimed super fund must pay out your account-based pension to one or more people in your life who are eligible.
Your eligible beneficiaries might include your spouse (including de facto, same-gender partners, and poly relationships), your children, anyone financially dependent on you, or your legal representative.
It is important to know your account-based pension cannot be included in your Will unless you have specified certain instructions with your super fund first. The best way to control how a super fund distributes your money is to have a valid nomination (see below).
If you do not have a valid binding nomination, your super fund may choose how to distribute your super. If this occurs your super fund may invite people in your life to make a claim for some of your super. This is known as “claim staking,” and your fund is bound to do this by law.
Generally, there are four ways to nominate your super beneficiary -
- A Lapsing Binding nomination - valid for three years if no amendment or revocation is made. Your super fund will attempt to contact you before the nomination expires to ask you to confirm your nomination.
- A Non-Lapsing Binding nomination - will not expire unless an amendment or revocation is made. You should review your nomination regularly to make sure it’s still right for you. Your super fund accepts no liability for any failure on your part to do so.
- A Non-Binding nomination - your super fund gets the final say over who receives your super. They will usually take your expired nomination of beneficiaries into account but are not bound to follow it.
- A Reversionary nomination – applies to people who are receiving their super as a pension and wish the pension to be paid to another person (spouse or children only) after their death. A revisionary nomination will only apply if you are receiving your super as a pension prior to your death.
Super funds tend to only assess the validity of your nominations upon your death. This is a tightly regulated process, and these forms must be completed accurately and be notarised otherwise, they may be deemed invalid. It is critical that you follow the exact process as set out by your super fund to avoid the risk of your binding nomination being rejected upon your death.
Most super funds offer complimentary general, factual, or financial advice to their members, which is commonly referred to as “intra-fund advice”, this is a good place to get an initial understanding of your super, and the decisions you can make about it.
Andi is a 61-year-old who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Andi does not have a relationship with their family of origin and has instead left their estate to be evenly split between their two best friends, as indicated in their Will. Andi did not nominate a beneficiary with their Super fund (also known as a Trustee). When Andi passed away their Super fund was required to exercise discretion about where to distribute the money and commenced the “Claim-Staking” process, which saw Andi’s estranged Nephew and Andi’s long-term flatmate make a claim for Andi’s Super. The Trustee considered Andi’s Will and may decide to split the funds four ways – one quarter to each Friend as specified in the Will, one quarter to Andi’s nephew and one quarter to their long-term flatmate. Because there was no binding nomination, the Trustee was required to consider all applications despite Andi’s Will clearly specifying their wishes.
Completing a binding nomination with your super fund is important for LGBTQ+ people to consider.
Early release of Superannuation
There are some conditions which a super fund is allowed to release all your super to you before you die. For example, you may qualify for early release of your super funds if you have a Terminal Medical condition. Learn more here.
Insurance inside Superannuation
You may have some insurance for lost income if you become unwell included in your super fund with unique insurance policy terms and conditions. These insurances may include income protection, total and permanent disability, terminal illness and/or death. You need to contact your super fund to confirm what insurances you may have.
Easy Superannuation Infographic
Superannuation Calculator: find out your balance at retirement
Note: This super information is general in nature and does not constitute “financial advice” and should the reader wish financial advice, they would need to seek that out.
A legal document with instructions for who you want to inherit your estate, care for your children, and be the executor of your estate when you die.
More information in Death Planning.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a person, or trustee organisation the legal authority to act for you to manage your assets and make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. There are two types of Power of Attorney documents:
- Enduring Power of Attorney - A legal document that allows you to appoint a person(s) to manage financial and legal decisions on your behalf and continues even if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself.
- General Power of Attorney - A legal document that allows you to appoint a person(s) to manage financial and legal decisions on your behalf, only while you can make your own decisions.
More information in Death Planning.
Making a Bequest
A bequest is a gift of money, assets, shares or personal property. You can specify a percentage of your estate, a specified sum, specified items or a conditional bequest. Gifting and laws related to donations to charities are state-specific in Australia. Therefore, it is important that you consult a solicitor before making a bequest to ensure you receive guidance that ensures your wishes are fulfilled and the gift goes to the correct organisation.
A Bequest to ACON - Establish Your Legacy Through Philanthropy
Leaving a philanthropic gift in your will, whether big or small, to a cause you are passionate about is a wonderful act of generosity.
For over 35 years, ACON has been helping LGBTQ people and people living with HIV take control of their health. We offer a range of services including HIV prevention, HIV support, sexual health, mental health, alcohol and other drugs, safety and inclusion, domestic and family violence, disability and aging.
We are here for our communities and with your philanthropic gift, you will be too. After you have provided for your loved ones, a bequest made to ACON will propel us further in our mission to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV in NSW.
Through your will, you will establish a lasting legacy through the power of philanthropy and make a difference to lives of many.
Click here to download a Bequest Information Kit and more information
Find out more
Definitions | Ageing as an LGBTQ+ Person | Needing Care | Death Planning | Grief and Bereavement | Caring for Others | Money Matters | Resources