What Happens To My Superannuation When I Die?

Superannuation, commonly known as “super”, is a retirement savings system in Australia that aims to provide individuals with an income stream when they retire. It is a mandatory contribution made by employers on behalf of their employees. Super funds invest these contributions, typically in assets such as stocks, bonds, and property, to grow the fund over time. Superannuation aims to ensure financial security for individuals in their retirement years.

What Happens To My Superannuation When I Die

Importance of understanding Superannuation after death

While superannuation primarily supports individuals during their retirement, it is also essential to understand what happens to super when a person passes away. The distribution of superannuation benefits after death is an important consideration for estate planning and ensuring that loved ones are taken care of financially. Understanding the rules and options surrounding superannuation after death can help individuals effectively make informed decisions and provide for their beneficiaries.

Superannuation Beneficiary Nomination

When it comes to your superannuation, it’s crucial to have a clear plan for what happens to it when you pass away. A Superannuation Beneficiary Nomination is a legal document that allows you to specify who will receive your superannuation benefits after your death. There are several types of beneficiary nominations:

  • Binding Death Benefit Nomination: This nomination is legally binding, and the trustee of your superannuation fund must distribute your benefits according to your wishes.

  • Non-Binding Death Benefit Nomination: Although non-binding, this nomination provides guidance to the trustee on how you want your benefits distributed. The trustee will consider your wishes, but they ultimately have the discretion to decide.

  • Reversionary Pension Nomination: If you have a superannuation pension, you can select a reversionary beneficiary who will continue to receive the pension payments after your death. This option is only available for certain types of pensions.

How to make a valid Superannuation Beneficiary Nomination

To ensure that your Superannuation Beneficiary Nomination is valid and legally enforceable, you must follow these steps:

  • Check the requirements of your superannuation fund: Each fund may have specific rules and procedures for making a valid nomination. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with these requirements.

  • Complete the necessary forms: Most superannuation funds provide nomination forms you must fill out. Make sure to provide accurate and up-to-date information about your nominated beneficiaries.

  • Choose the appropriate type of nomination: Consider your circumstances and preferences when selecting a beneficiary nomination type. A binding death benefit nomination is the best option if you want to ensure that your wishes are legally enforceable.

  • Update your nomination regularly: It’s crucial to review and update your beneficiary nomination regularly, especially when there are significant life events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of children. This ensures that your nomination reflects your current wishes.

By making a valid Superannuation Beneficiary Nomination, you can have peace of mind knowing that your superannuation benefits will be distributed according to your wishes and provide financial support to your loved ones after your passing.

Death Benefit Payments

The good news is that your superannuation doesn’t simply disappear. Instead, it is typically paid out as a death benefit to your nominated beneficiaries. There are certain options and tax implications to be aware of when it comes to death benefit payments, ensuring that your loved ones receive the funds they are entitled to. Let’s explore these important considerations below.

Distribution of Superannuation After Death

There are several factors to consider when it comes to the distribution of superannuation after death. The role of executors and trustees is crucial in ensuring that the deceased’s superannuation is distributed according to their wishes and the relevant laws and regulations.

Factors such as the presence of a valid will, the nominated beneficiaries, and any binding death benefit nominations will determine how the superannuation is distributed. To understand the process in more detail, let’s dive deeper into the role of executors and trustees in distributing superannuation and the factors that come into play.

Superannuation and Estate Planning

Planning for what happens to your superannuation when you die is an important aspect of estate planning. Superannuation is not automatically covered under your will, so making specific arrangements to ensure that your super is distributed according to your wishes is essential. These arrangements typically involve nominating a beneficiary and considering any legal or financial implications.

Considerations for planning Superannuation for beneficiaries

When planning your superannuation for beneficiaries, there are several factors to consider:
  • Nominating a beneficiary: You can nominate a specific individual or individuals to receive your superannuation benefits upon your death. This nomination can be made through a binding death benefit nomination or a non-binding death benefit nomination.

  • Tax implications: Superannuation benefits may be subject to different tax treatment depending on the beneficiary’s age and other factors. Understanding the tax implications and considering any potential tax consequences for your beneficiaries is essential.

  • Trustee discretion: The trustee of your superannuation fund may be able to distribute the benefits among your nominated beneficiaries. It’s important to consider this discretion and provide clear instructions to the trustee to ensure your intended beneficiaries receive the benefits.

  • Reviewing and updating: It’s important to regularly review and update your superannuation nominations to reflect any changes in your personal circumstances or changes in your intended beneficiaries.


In conclusion, it is essential to understand the role of superannuation in estate planning and what happens to your superannuation when you die. By taking the necessary steps and making informed decisions, you can ensure that your superannuation benefits are distributed according to your wishes and provide financial security for your loved ones. It is highly recommended to seek professional advice from a financial planner or estate planning lawyer to navigate the complexities of the superannuation system and create a comprehensive estate plan.