What happens to super after death?
Most of us don’t like talking about death or thinking that someone close to us is going to pass away one day. But it’s a fact of life that no one lives forever so it’s a good idea to think about what you want to happen to your super when you or those close to you are no longer around.
For more information, see our Choosing a beneficiary page or download our What happens to my super when I die? factsheet.
What happens if I die?
When you die, your superannuation benefit balance and any insurance benefit (known as a death benefit) is usually paid to your dependents or your legal representative. If you don’t have any dependents, it is paid to your estate and will be dealt with according to what is in your will or by the legal rules for those who die without a will. In relation to superannuation, dependents can include your current spouse or partner (including de facto or same-sex partners), your children (including step kids or adopted children) or any other person who is financially dependent on you (for example your father-in-law who lives with you) or in an interdependent relationship with you.
An interdependent relationship is defined as one where you share a close personal relationship, live together and one or each of you provides the other financial support and/or domestic support and personal care.
This focus on dependence is because the purpose of superannuation is to provide for fund members and their dependents, either in retirement or after a member dies. Non-dependent people and adult children who are not financially dependent have to pay some tax on death benefits, rather than the benefits being tax free.