A recent report in Super News Alert published by Thomson Reuters has highlighted the complexities of family disputes over superannuation death benefits in self-managed superannuation funds.
In that case, Maxwell Morris has signed a binding death nomination in favour of his two adult daughters from his first marriage of all his interest in his self-managed superannuation fund. Unfortunately, Mr Morris had not altered his Will and control of the trustee of the self-managed superannuation fund passed to his second wife.
This resulted in protracted and expensive proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria about the validity of the binding death benefit nomination. The Court ordered the fund to pay the benefit to the deceased’s two daughters. However in the meantime the deceased’s second wife had used the fund’s assets to pay a substantial legal bill in the order of some $370,000.00. This seriously depleted the benefit that was to pass to the deceased’s daughters.
There are critical lessons for people who have significant wealth tied up in their self-managed superannuation funds and in particular it is important to ensure that the intended superannuation beneficiaries have control of the self-managed superannuation fund following death.Assets require very careful will and estate planning advice and practice, especially in circumstances where there are blended families.