On 25 March 2015, the Queensland Supreme Court in
Munro v Munro  QSC 61, handed down a decision in
which a document that was expressed to be a 'binding death
benefit nomination' (BDBN) was found to be invalid, allowing
the trustees of the SMSF to distribute the deceased's death
benefit other than as set out in the BDBN.
Mr Munro (a solicitor) signed a document that was stated to be a
'binding death benefit nomination' for his benefits in his
SMSF in favour of 'Trustee of Deceased Estate'. The
remaining trustee (Mr Munro's wife) and her daughter (who was
appointed as a co-trustee after Mr Munro's death) decided to
pay the death benefit to Mrs Munro on the basis the BDBN was not
Two of the executors of Mr Munro's estate applied for a
declaration that the nomination form signed by Mr Munro was a
binding death benefit nomination under clause 31.2 of the trust
The Court held the BDBN was not valid as it did not comply with
the requirements in the trust deed. The Court emphasised that the
BDBN would only be binding if it strictly complied with all the
requirements of the trust deed. In this case, the nomination was to
'Trustee of Deceased Estate'. The Court determined that
this was not a nomination of the deceased's 'legal personal
representative' (as required by the trust deed) as the roles
As a result, the trustees of the SMSF could pay the
deceased's death benefit to Mrs Munro.
The Court also decided that a BDBN in relation to benefits in a
SMSF does not have to comply with the requirements in the
Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 and
Regulations (unless the trust deed requires that).
This case is another reminder of the importance of carefully
drafting a BDBN so that it complies with the specific requirements
in the trust deed and being precise in the nomination of the
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