Skeletons in the Cupboards and Tax Man at the Door – Estate Planning Solutions for SMSF members

Here is one solution to a big problem that may become more common with blended families and increased divorce as well as de facto arrangements.     SMSF Estate Planning

Our client , lets call him , Scott (age 78) is a widower in the Hills district and he has a $652,000 account based pension (containing a 100% taxable component to keep it simple). His two adult daughters who are financially independent are noted as 50/50 beneficiaries on his non-lapsing binding death benefit nomination (see here for more details). Any lump sum death benefit they receive will be subject to 17 per cent tax. In dollar terms, this is $110,500 (calculation: $652,000 x 17%) and he wasn’t too happy about this.

Scott was advised by his specialist he has 2-3 years maximum to live due to an aggressive cancer. He threw this curly one at me to come up with a strategy as he wants to maximise his estate for his kids but also retain access to the funds while alive to fund medical and living expenses. Our strategy involves Scott taking a tax-free withdrawal from his account based pension. He then let me know about some skeletons he had in his cupboard!

Scott could retain these funds within a bank account, however the account will form part of his estate upon his death. Even though his estate will be paid predominately to his adult daughters, he is concerned about his estranged son from an affair he had in his late 50’s who might challenge the Will.

We advised that a valid alternative available to Scott is to invest into an investment bond with himself as the owner and the life insured. Since an investment bond is a non-estate asset, upon his death the funds will be paid tax-free to his adult daughters.

Both strategies will avoid the $110,500 of death benefits tax on funds paid to his daughters, however only the investment bond will ensure the funds do not become part of his estate. Scott’s two daughters need only produce a copy of his death certificate to gain access to the funds within the bond. This could also avoid lengthy delays with the administration of the estate and overcome possible estate challenges from his estranged son.

In terms of costs we were looking at foregoing the tax-free status in pension phase for the 2 years but that was far outweighed by the savings in the death benefits tax and we are actually able to wind up the SMSF  to save his children the hassle of dealing with that later.

For further information on the issues raised in this blog please contact our Castle Hill SMSF Centre or Windsor Financial Planning Office or choose an appointment option here 

I hope this guidance  has been helpful and please take the time to comment. Feedback always appreciated. Please reblog, retweet, put on your Facebook page if you found information helpful.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

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  1. Great article Liam, giving that additional thought process to the Estate Planning Process.


  1. Skeletons in the Cupboards and Tax Man at the Door – Estate Planning Solutions for SMSF members «smsf informer smsf informer

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