Monday, 27 August 2012 07:02

Reversionary Beneficiary

Allocated Pensions - Reversionary Pension could save Tax for surviving spouse

retirement-planning

Many people are under the impression that their will deals with all of their assets after death.  Not so generally with respect to people’s superannuation.

The payment of the balance of your superannuation fund, after your death, will generally be to a dependant beneficiary, such as your spouse or a dependant child.  However if no nomination has been made, the decision about where to pay benefits could rest with the trustee of the super fund.  It may be beneficial to pay your superannuation benefit as a pension rather than a lump sum.  To facilitate this your fund may allow you to nominate what is known as a “reversionary beneficiary”. The nomination of a reversionary beneficiary allows for the continuation of your pension upon your death, locking in some important potential benefits.

The rules of the fund (trust deed for Self Managed Super Funds must allow you to nominate a reversionary at the time you begin the original allocated pension, this is an important aspect for trustees of Self Managed Super Funds to check.

Some advantages of nominating a reversionary beneficiary.

Continuity of Tax Treatment - If the primary beneficiary was 60 or older at the time of death, then payments to the reversionary beneficiary will be tax exempt regardless of the age of the beneficiary. This is also the case if the reversionary beneficiary is also 60 or older but the member died before reaching 60.

John is 62 years old and has commenced an allocated pension with his wife Mary aged 57 as his reversionary beneficiary. If John dies Mary would continue to receive his pension payment of $30,000 per year tax free even though she is only 57 years old.

This benefit can be particularly important if Mary has another source of taxable income in her own right where she has already used up her tax free and low tax threshold.

Your benefit is paid according to your wishes. Where a valid reversionary nomination is made, the trustee of the superannuation fund is bound to continue paying the pension to your nominated reversionary upon your death. This takes away the risk that the superannuation fund trustee may pay part or all of your benefit to someone other than whom you desired.

This risk can arise when people have multiple spouses (although not at the same time) and children from different relationships.  Sometimes in these situations having assets bypass the estate can reduce the risk of an estate being contested resulting in hefty legal bills.

There can clearly be benefits in establishing a “Reversionary Beneficiary” for investors with allocated pensions, however these nominations can only be made at the time of establishment. For those with pre-existing allocated pensions, they could simply rollover their fund to a new fund provider and nominate a reversionary beneficiary at that time, but this needs to be considered against any adverse effects on Centrelink entitlements.

 

Published in Tax Advice