SuperConcepts executive manager – SMSF technical and private wealth Graeme Colley says the six-month rule for death benefits, that came in with the superannuation regulations, has been causing some confusion in the industry.
“There’s a rule about death benefits and when you can commute a pension, and it’s not possible to commute a reversionary pension if you are the receiving spouse into your account or into a lump sum until six months after the death of the individual,” Mr Colley said.
“What some people have been asking is whether it starts on the 1st of January or does it start on the 30th of June because there are new death benefit rules that come in on 30 June 2017 that will allow you to roll over death benefits provided you draw those down as a pension.”
If a spouse died between 1 January and 30 June 2017, Mr Colley said it would technically not be possible to use the current rules because these rules don’t operate until six months after their death.
“If you’ve got a spouse that died on the 1st of January, it’s not possible for you to commute that amount and put it into accumulation phase simply because the six months hasn’t passed,” he said.
Mr Colley said what the government has done, however, is backdate the new rules to 1 January 2017 so that a person can commute the pension soon after the death of the spouse and roll it into their superannuation.
“I think that’s quite a compassionate rule for people who might have this money coming through. So the effect of the rule is to make it retrospective, but it’s also quite a compassionate way of looking at it.”