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Superannuation
Superannuation (SMSF) document

Change SMSF Trustee (death of a trustee)

Use Cleardocs to change the trustee of an SMSF following the death of a trustee.

This document package is only required if there is 1 surviving individual trustee and the fund wishes to replace:

  • the deceased trustee with 1 or more individual trustees; or
  • individual trustees with a corporate trustee.
$247.50
  • Cleardocs fee incl GST $247.50
Product Benefits
  • Full range of tailored change of trustee documents generated online within minutes
  • Deals with the reality of an ageing population and the ageing of SMSF trustees
  • An SMSF does not require an underlying Cleardocs trust deed to use this document package
  • For a change from individual trustees to a corporate trustee, we will also update your trust deed to the latest version of the Cleardocs deed
  • Copy function for address details — saving you typing
  • Extensive online help and local phone support
  • Easy to use question interface
Product Information

What documents are included in the SMSF Change of Trustee (death of a trustee) package?

You will receive all of the documents required to record the changes being made:

  • Change of Trustee Deed;
  • Trustee consent forms;
  • ATO Trustee Declaration Form;
  • Application to become a Member; and
  • Trustee minutes.

If the change is from individual trustees to a corporate trustee then:

  • the Change of Trustee Deed tailors the fund's existing deed to the new structure as well as updating the fund's deed to the latest version of the Cleardocs deed; and
  • the document package includes the new version of the fund's deed.

What information do you need to order Change SMSF Trustee (death of a trustee) through Cleardocs?

You can download our checklist of the information required to order a Change SMSF Trustee.

What scenarios for change of trustee are covered?

This document package is only required if there is 1 surviving individual trustee and the fund wishes to replace:

  • the deceased trustee with 1 or more individual trustees; or
  • individual trustees with a corporate trustee.

If your SMSF has a Cleardocs trust deed: If a member dies, that person automatically ceases to be a member and a trustee or director of the trustee of the fund. If the passing away of a member means the structure of the fund fails to comply with the SIS Act, that is, there is just 1 surviving trustee, then you should use this package to replace the deceased trustee.

If there are 2 or more surviving trustees, the structure complies with the SIS Act and the fund is not required to replace the deceased trustee. If the fund does wish to, one of the other Change SMSF Trustee document packages can be used to appoint additional trustees.

If your SMSF does not have a Cleardocs trust deed: You will need to review the terms of your trust deed to determine what happens when a member dies and the procedure that needs to be followed. If you are unsure, you should obtain professional advice.

The fund does not require an underlying Cleardocs deed

To use this document package, the SMSF does not require an underlying Cleardocs deed. We strongly recommend that you update to the latest version of the Cleardocs deed — this is to make sure that the fund's deed has the relevant powers and provides for what happens upon the death of a member or trustee.

You can update the SMSF's deed to a Cleardocs deed — or to the latest version of the Cleardocs deed.

If you do not want to update to the latest Cleardocs deed, you must seek legal advice about the suitability of the document package for the fund's circumstances to ensure that the deed contains a standard appointment power.

What is the difference between the Cleardocs Change SMSF Trustee packages?

Document package Does the Fund require an underlying Cleardocs trust deed? Is the package suitable to replace a deceased trustee?
Change SMSF Trustee (Cleardocs deed)
Change SMSF Trustee (non-Cleardocs deed)
Change SMSF Trustee — death of trustee

Changing to a corporate trustee?

If you are changing the trustees of your fund from individuals to a corporate trustee and you don't yet have a company, then you can register a company with Cleardocs. The registration is completely online.

Seek legal advice

The Change SMSF Trustee information here should be considered general in nature, and in no way interpreted as legal advice. You must always seek your own independent legal, accounting and financial advice about your particular situation. The summary on this page is for information purposes only.

Frequently Asked Legal Questions

Cleardocs is not a law firm. So as with all the legal material on this site, the answers to these "frequently asked legal questions" are provided by the law firm Maddocks. Cleardocs does not endorse those answers.

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Is the Change SMSF Trustee package suitable for when the SMSF has a member who is under 18 years old?

The law allows an SMSF to have a member who is under 18 years old. Specifically, where there is a member under 18 years old who does not have a legal personal representative:

  1. a parent or guardian of the member needs to be a trustee of the fund in place of the member; or
  2. if there is a corporate trustee, a parent or guardian of the member needs to be a director of the corporate trustee in place of the member.[1]

However, please note that the Cleardocs Change of Trustee product can only be used when the SMSF has member(s) who are over 18 years old.


[1] Section 17A(3)(c) of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993.

Is the Change SMSF Trustee (death of a trustee) package suitable for when a director of the corporate trustee has passed away?

If the SMSF has a corporate trustee and the person who has died was a director of the corporate trustee, then you don't need to change the trustee for this reason. However, you can still use Cleardocs to change the SMSF's trustee anyway:

Should I use the Change SMSF Trustee package when a fund member turns 18?

A person under 18 years old can be a member of an SMSF, but not a trustee. Superannuation law allows a parent or guardian of a member who is under 18 years old to be that member's representative as trustee. When the member turns 18 years old, that member must be:

  1. if the fund has individual trustees, appointed as a trustee and his or her parent or guardian must retire; or
  2. if the fund has a company as trustee, appointed as a director of that company trustee.

You can use a Cleardocs Change SMSF Trustee package to retire a parent or guardian representative trustee and appoint the now 18 year old member as a trustee.

You do not need to use the Cleardocs Change SMSF Trustee package to appoint the 18 year old member as a director of the corporate trustee. The appointment as director can occur in accordance with that company's Constitution. However, the 18 year old member must:

Once the new director has been appointed, an existing director must complete an ASIC Form 484 to notify ASIC of the appointment of the new director.

In all cases, once the changes have taken place to the fund's trustees, the trustees must complete and sign the ATO change of details form for superannuation fund entities. This form is provided with the Cleardocs Change SMSF Trustee packages.

What happens if I die and I do not have a Binding Death Benefit Nomination or Death Benefit Agreement in place for my fund and there is a surviving member of the fund?

If you die and you do not have a binding Death Benefit Nomination or Death Benefit Agreement in place, then the trustee of the fund, most often the surviving member of your fund either as a trustee in their personal capacity or as the sole remaining director of a corporate trustee, will determine how your death benefit entitlement is dealt with.

That trustee of the fund has to notify certain persons regarding the death benefit entitlement. Please refer to our FALQ 'If I am a surviving trustee of a fund which uses the Cleardocs SMSF trust deed product and a member of the fund has died, do I need to notify anyone of the deceased member's entitlement?'

For example, that trustee could decide that your member benefit entitlement is paid 100% to themselves (i.e. the survivor). Or, he or she could decide to pay it to your legal personal representative, being to your estate or to any other dependants. This can be a complicated process if you are dealing with a second marriage or a blended family.

To help avoid these complexities, you can choose that your legal personal representative, being the executor of your will or administrator of your estate, can step into your shoes as replacement trustee/director so that person can make the decision together with the surviving trustee. This would have to be written into your deed.

However, the best way to ensure that your wishes regarding your death benefit entitlement are implemented is to have a Binding Death Benefit Nomination or Death Benefit Agreement in place!

If I am a surviving trustee of a fund which uses the Cleardocs SMSF trust deed product and a member of the fund has died, do I need to notify anyone of the deceased member's entitlement?

Yes, if there is no valid binding death benefit nomination or death benefit agreement in place at the time of the deceased member's death..

You must give written notice that a benefit is payable to the following persons:

  • a nominated beneficiary;
  • a reversionary beneficiary;
  • the legal personal representatives of the member;
  • known dependants of the member; and
  • any other person that you reasonably believe may have an entitlement or interest in the benefit.

The notice must include how and by what time the person or persons may make a claim for the benefit and following this time you must notify the person or persons you previously notified about the benefit to enable them to object to payment to the person or persons.

Does the SMSF Trust Deed take into account the recent changes in the law related to COVID-19?

Yes, the SMSF Trust Deed has been updated to allow debits from an accumulation account resulting from a COVID-19 Determination (which is a determination issued by the Commissioner of Taxation allowing the early release of super because of the economic effects of COVID-19 on a member).


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