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Succession planning for your SMSF

A mandatory component of managing a self-managed super fund (SMSF) is planning out what will happen to the fund if its trustee were to pass away. While succession planning may not be one of the first responsibilities that comes to mind when managing an SMSF, it is a necessity that can provide certainty and peace of mind for a deceased trustee’s family.

Succession planning can become complex if little or no attention is paid to it on an ongoing basis, but there are ways trustees can ensure the best outcome for both the fund and their family.

One option for a sole member fund is to appoint another trustee. Note that the non-member trustee cannot be the employer of the member unless they are related. This would not be an option for a fund with two members as the available exemptions only apply to single member funds. Those who appoint a family member or close friend must consider first whether they are suitable for a role; running an SMSF requires expertise and knowledge, and appointing someone with limited experience may not be in the best interest of the fund’s future.

Some SMSF trustees may also choose to appoint an enduring power of attorney. An enduring power of attorney is someone who makes decisions on the trustee’s behalf if they become incapacitated or pass away. Common power of attorneys include accountants, financial advisors and lawyers; people who understand SMSF management and the associated challenges. For an enduring power of attorney nominee to be appointed, legal documents, i.e. the succession documents appointing the replacement director, must be in place before the member loses their capacity to be a member.

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News

Tax on super death benefits for dependants vs non-dependants

July 9, 2020

A super death benefit is the super paid after a person’s death, usually to a nominated beneficiary. These benefits are subject to different tax treatments, depending on whether the beneficiaries are dependant or non-dependant.

Superannuation death benefits will generally be received tax-free by tax dependants, who are considered to be:

Dependants will not have to pay tax on the tax-free component of their super in the event that they:

However, they will be taxed at their marginal rate if they receive a capped benefit income stream and:

Not all super death benefits are subject to tax; for non-dependants, there is a taxable portion. This component is largely made up of after-tax super contributions that the deceased member has made.

Super death benefit payments are subject to tax when:

Non-dependants must calculate how much money in the super account is a:

The amount of tax non-dependants pay will be based on their marginal tax rate, however, this amount may be reduced by tax offsets. For the taxed element of the taxable component, the effective tax rate is your marginal tax rate of 17% (whichever is lower). For the untaxed element of the taxable component, the effective tax rate is 32% or your marginal tax rate (whichever is lower).