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Avoiding SMSF death benefit disputes

Recent family disputes over superannuation death benefits carry an important warning to current SMSF trustees.

The disputes have highlighted the need for trustees to have appropriate and binding death-benefit directions planned while members are still alive, in order to reduce the risk of a dispute arising. When there are clear death-benefit directions, surviving trustees have no choice but to comply with them.

Small business owners who use a self-managed super fund can be particularly vulnerable to these types of disputes, especially those involved in a family business. This is because many small business owners hold their family business premises in their family self-managed fund, and any dispute over death benefits can lead to the forced sale of the small business premise.

To avoid the possibility of disputes arising over superannuation death-benefits in a small businesses, owners should nominate a successor trustee or successor director. This can help assure the right ownership and control of their assets is passed on to their intended superannuation beneficiaries.

Owners should also openly discuss with their family what they intend to do with their super death benefits. Establishing strong personal relationships within the family is one of the best ways to avoid a family dispute in the future.

Posted on 15 July '15 by , under Super.

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What to consider when consolidating your super

The ATO reported that 45% of working Australians were not aware that they had multiple super accounts in 2016. Having multiple super accounts is particularly common for individuals who have had more than one job. If this is you, it is important to identify and manage your super accounts because having more than one can be costly as a result of account fees from multiple funds.To combat this, you may want to consolidate your super, which moves all your super into one account. Not only does this save on fees, but it also makes your super easier to manage and keep track of.

Before consolidating your super, it is important to do the following:

Research your funds' policy
Compare your active super accounts so you can make the right choice about which one you should close. Things to assess include:

  • Exit fees
  • Insurance policies
  • Investment options
  • Ongoing service fees
  • Performance of the funds

Check employer contributions
Changing funds may affect how much your employer contributes, as some employers contribute more to certain funds. Check your current accounts to see if changing funds will affect this. Once you have selected a super fund, regardless of whether you choose a new super fund or one of your existing ones, provide your employer with the details they need to pay super into your selected account.

Gather the relevant information
When consolidating your super, you will need to have the following details ready:

  • Your tax file number.
  • Proof of identity. This could include your driver's license, birth certificate or passport.
  • Your fund's superannuation product identification number (SPIN).
  • Your fund's unique superannuation identifier (USI).
  • Details of your previous fund.

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