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Superannuation Disputes: Your Rights and Claims

Understanding Superannuation

Superannuation does not automatically form part of someone’s estate when they pass away. If someone passes away and they have assets in their superannuation account, the death benefit is normally paid to the nominated beneficiary the client has made to the superfund. 


Distribution of Superannuation Benefits

In these circumstances, the superannuation fund has to pay the death benefit in accordance with the death benefit nomination the deceased person made. Although if the deceased person did not make a death benefit nomination, the nomination they made was invalid because it did not comply with the strict requirements of superannuation law, or the death benefit nomination has expired, the trustee of the superannuation fund has discretion as to who they distribute the funds to. The trustees of the superannuation fund will have to determine who are the dependent people of the deceased upon their death.

Under superannuation law, this includes a spouse, which means legally married de facto partners and registered partners, children of the deceased, which includes stepchildren, someone who was financially dependent on the deceased at the time of their death, or someone who is an interdependent relationship with the deceased. 

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Legal Assistance and Claim Process

The basic test for an interdependent relationship includes they had a close personal relationship, they lived together, one or each of them provides the other with financial support, and one of each of them provides the other with domestic support and personal care.

We regularly give advice to eligible applicants about their rights to make a claim on a superannuation death benefit. We will talk to the client and understand their position and provide a detailed submission to the trustee of the superannuation fund in order to provide a compelling case about why you should be paid the proceeds of the death benefit. If the trustee’s response is not satisfactory or we think they’ve made an error, we can then appeal their decision and have the matter reheard. 


Factors Affecting Determination

If we are still unsatisfied with the result and think that the result is unjust, we can appeal the matter to a court and have the issue determined by a judge. How these matters are determined depends on the eligible applicants, the relationship between the applicants and the deceased, the family history between the applicants and the size of the superannuation death benefit. 

If you are unsure, if you are an eligible applicant or just want to know your rights generally in respect to superannuation claim, please contact our office for a free initial claim assessment. Thank you.

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Need a Copy of a Will?

If you need a copy of a Will and/or are seeking legal advice, the team at O'Connor Rudy and Garrett can assist you. We will contact you to confirm additional details and then organise contacting the required parties to secure a copy of the Will for you.