What is a death benefit claim?

What happens to your superannuation when you die?

It’s a fact of life that we will all pass away, so it’s important to consider what will happen to your superannuation account balance when that day arrives.

In Australia, superannuation has been specifically designed to be kept separate to your Estate.

That is, any superannuation monies (or insurances held within your super) will not necessarily be paid to the pool of assets or liabilities that your Estate holds at your date of death.

This is because the Australian government believes that any superannuation monies should be paid to your dependants (people who depended on your financially at your time of death), rather than potentially being absorbed by beneficiaries under your Will or creditors that are owed money by your Estate.

You can nominate who you wish your superannuation monies to be paid to in the event of your death, by way of a death benefit nomination or a binding death benefit nomination.

What is a superannuation death benefit?

A superannuation death benefit is a payment made from a deceased person’s superannuation fund to a dependent, beneficiary or to the Estate. If a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it may also be possible for them to claim this payment before they die.

All superannuation funds offer death benefit payments, and it comprises of any accumulated account balance that the deceased had at the time of death, as well as any potential insurance monies.

The insurance component of any superannuation death benefit claim may not be as straightforward as you’d think; Littles has challenged death insurance claims avoided by insurers because of the way the deceased passed, because their cover ran out by weeks or because their conditions were allegedly pre-existing.

If you are a beneficiary, a dependant, or the Executor of the deceased’s Estate, you may be eligible for a superannuation death benefit payment.

Who is a dependant?

A dependant may be considered any one of the following:

– a deceased’s spouse or de facto spouse (current or former);

– a child of the deceased;

– a person in an interdependency relationship with the deceased; and/or

– a person financially dependent on the deceased.

How is it paid?

Superannuation death benefit payments may be paid as an income stream, a lump sum, or a combination of both.

Tax implications

Depending on how and to whom the superannuation death benefit is paid, the payments may be subject to tax.

It is important to remember that there is a difference between a tax dependant and a superannuation dependant at law.

In most circumstances lump sums paid to dependents are tax free, while those paid as an income stream may have a portion of their benefit taxed.

What now?

Superannuation death benefits are complex and can be subject to variables affecting payments to beneficiaries. Engaging Littles will ensure that you receive what is owed to you and avoid costly mistakes.

Know your rights.

If you are yet to make a claim for a death benefit, you are entitled to legal representation and Littles can help you.

If you have already lodged a claim and it has been rejected by a superannuation fund or insurer, you may be entitled to have the decision reviewed through an internal resolution procedure.

If your complaint has been upheld, you may be able to litigate in a court or lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

There are strict time limits to challenge an insurer’s decision, so it’s important you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

What is the Littles difference?

Put simply, Littles are experts in superannuation and insurance law matters.

Our insurance team has helped thousands of consumers claim their entitlements, and our Head of TPD and General Insurance has extensive industry knowledge and insight on how to maximise your prospects of success.

We also speak your language, at sixteen languages and counting. Forget paying for a translator or for a lawyer who doesn’t understand you and your cultural background.

All our superannuation and insurance law matters are conducted on a no win, no fee basis, and we don’t charge you upfront for any disbursements necessary to prosecute your claim.

If you would like superannuation and insurance law advice, reach out to Littles today by using our free Claim Checker.

About the author

Littles’ Head of TPD and General Insurance, Rowan McDonald, is an expert in insurance and superannuation law. Rowan has over thirteen years of experience in the industry and has prosecuted thousands of successful insurance claims for consumers.

Having worked in the industry for over a decade, Rowan has an extensive industry contact list and regularly presents to disability support groups, financial industry professionals and multicultural organisations.

Rowan has also advised some of Australia’s top insurers, giving him unrivalled insight into the claim process from all perspectives. Rowan takes a pragmatic and common-sense approach to the advice he provides his clients.

For your free, personal consultation get in touch with Rowan today.

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