We at Cooke & Hutchinson Lawyers have always focused a great deal on binding death benefit nominations as part of an estate plan and this is because of the ongoing onus on our clients to make sure that they are up to date and binding. So when we see case law which confirms that valid non-lapsing death benefit nominations being upheld, we find it reassuring.

It is very important to remember that when you prepare a will your superannuation death benefit (which normally includes a substantial life insurance policy) will not automatically form part of your estate. This means that you are required to instruct your superannuation fund trustee as to what should happen with your death benefit upon your death. This is normally done by way of a death benefit nomination form which is provided by the superannuation fund.

Depending on your superannuation fund your death benefit nomination may be lapsing which means that you will be required to review and resign your death benefit nomination every 2 to 3 years. We find that our clients often forget to set reminders for this task and that is why we always encourage them to contact the superannuation fund to ask whether they do have a non-lapsing death benefit nomination form.

We have found that more and more superannuation funds now provide the non-lapsing death benefit nomination forms which mean that you will not be required to review and resign the death benefit nomination unless you wish to make a change. This is why we are encouraged by the recent news that the High Court has held that non-lapsing binding death benefit nominations will be held binding on the superannuation fund trustee (provided of course that they are prepared and signed in accordance with their instructions).

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that this may be one of your most significant assets that you have an interest in and should definitely be addressed as part of an estate plan. If you require a lawyer to assist you with your death benefit nomination, please contact us as we will be able to provide you with a fixed price for the work required.