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Who will get your Super Death Benefit?

Wednesday 3 July 2019

In a reminder of the importance of ensuring you have your estate planning in place to clearly deal with your assets – including super - the Federal Court has dismissed an appeal against a decision to pay a superannuation death benefit pension to a fire fighter's de facto partner instead of a lump sum to his estate in Howard v Batistich.

The trustee of the Crown Employees Superannuation Fund determined that the respondent, Ms Batistich, was a "de facto partner" of the deceased at the date of his death under the Superannuation Act 1916 (NSW) and the Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW).

Accordingly, the trustee determined that Ms Batistich was entitled to a fortnightly pension. If there was no spouse (including a de facto), a lump sum death benefit of $350,000 would have been payable to the deceased estate.

The deceased's parents, as the administrators of his estate, complained to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal that Ms Batistich did not meet the definition of de facto partner.

In dismissing the appeal, the Court said it was not satisfied that the SCT had misunderstood its task or failed to take into account all the circumstances of the relationship.

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