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Ask Colley: What happens if my partner passes away

In the third edition of Ask Colley, Graeme Colley, Executive Manager at SuperConcepts, answers "I have $900,000 in super and my partner has $1 million in super. If either of us were to die what do I need to be aware of?"



Q.
I have $900,000 in super and my partner has $1 million in super.  If either of us were to die what do I need to be aware of? 


A.
Doing the garden around the front at my place is fraught with danger on the weekend.  The neighbours like to catch up and chew the fat about what’s been happening.  This covers the usual domestic issues, house prices and renovations, helped with advice from the tradies in the group.  Then there’s my contribution, limited to super and hearing out comments about the Government’s super policy and continual changes.  

One of the neighbours, Sam, works in some sort of secret IT business.  He doesn’t say much except for his beef about this year’s super changes and what happens if he or his wife Elizabeth die.  So, the question about death benefits raised its head last weekend as usual. “Liz and I don’t have too much in super so if one of us dies those new rules won’t affect us, will they?”.  I thought I would get out of it by asking him how much they both had in super.  To my surprise, he came back with, “Say I had about $1 million and Liz has about $900,000, what would happen then?”.  ”It just depends’”, I said.

“What if Liz died?” Sam said.  “The answer depends on whether you decide to take a lump sum payment of $900,000, which will be totally tax free to you,” I said.  “But, if Liz was drawing a pension from the fund and you were automatically entitled to it as a reversionary then it is considered to work out whether you’ve gone over the $1.6 million cap.  If she’s not taking a pension at the time of her passing then it’s up to you whether to take a death benefit pension up to the cap or draw the lump sum”.

Sam has just turned 58 and Liz is 56.  If she was to die and Sam started a pension there could be some tax issues for him to think about.  Where the deceased and the survivor are both under 60 the taxable component of the pension is taxed at personal rates and receives a 15% tax offset.  But, if one or both are 60 or older the pension is totally tax free.  “Something to think about there, Sam”, I said.

For anyone, even though they may have less than the $1.6 million super cap, they may be impacted just like Sam, if their partner should die and they draw a death benefit pension.  Now back to the gardening – this time I’m going around the back of the house, it’s much quieter.

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