Superannuation (SMSF) document

Update to SMSF

Update an existing self-managed superannuation (SMSF) trust deed fast.

Why update your SMSF deed?

An SMSF trust deed should be updated to reflect changes in the law and certain changes made to the fund to ensure that your SMSF remains compliant.

Cleardocs makes SMSF deed updates easy

  • Our easy-to-use workflow includes online guidance and makes it quick and easy to update your deed.
  • Get a full set of updated documents including the updated deed, deed of variation, notice to members and more.
  • One-click update available for an existing Cleardocs SMSF deed.
  • Be kept up to date on legislative and other changes that may require changes to your deed in the future.
  • Cleardocs fee incl GST $147.40
Product Benefits
  • One click update for existing Cleardocs SMSF trust deed
  • Pre-population of fund details for existing Cleardocs SMSFs
  • Option to simultaneously purchase Cleardocs SMSF Minutes & Resolutions Package at a discounted price
  • All documents are up to date and compliant with SMSF legislation
  • Extensive online help and local phone support
  • Used by thousands of professional advisors
  • Comprehensive and widely accepted SMSF trust deed
Product Information

What documents are included in the Cleardocs Update to SMSF package?

The Update to SMSF document package includes:

  • the SMSF's new updated Trust Deed;
  • the Deed of Variation that allows the update of the SMSF's existing deed;
  • a Notice to Members about the deed update;
  • a set up Minutes in which the SMSF trustee(s) and others involved approve the update; and
  • an Establishment Kit explaining what to do next.

What information do you need to update your SMSF deed through Cleardocs?

You need to be able to provide information about:

  • the SMSF - for example, when it was set up etc.;
  • the members, the trustees, any employer-sponsor;
  • the names, dates, and parties to the original deed and any later amending deeds; and
  • the number of the clause in the original deed that allows it to be amended.

You can also download our checklist of the required information. The easiest way to obtain that information is to have copies of the original deed, and any amending deed, handy.

Why update your SMSF deed?

Below, we set out some of the reasons to consider updating an SMSF deed. You need to remember that the summary here is for information purposes only.

There are several issues to consider about updating existing deeds. The sample letter gives much more detail around these key issues:

  • Do the SMSF's trustee(s) wish to borrow through a limited recourse borrowing arrangement to invest in the SMSF?
  • Do the SMSF's members want to make "permanent and binding" Death Benefit Agreements?
  • Is the SMSF's current deed fully complying? The ATO is increasingly rigorously pursuing non-complying SMSFs.
  • Does the SMSF's deed allow for the full range of 'reserving', pension and disablement benefits that the law now allows? The Cleardocs deed does.
  • Would you find it easier to manage your, or your clients', SMSFs if all of the funds had the same clear and simple deed?
  • Once your deed(s) is updated and stored with Cleardocs, we aim to keep you updated about legislative changes via email. Those updates alert you to whether to get legal advice about the changes and the possible need to update the deed again.

One-click update: store your SMSF deed(s) electronically with Cleardocs and keep them up-to-date with the law.

With the legislation around Self Managed Superannuation Funds changing so rapidly, the Cleardocs document creation, storage, and update package combine to offer a unique solution to the problem of keeping SMSF deeds up-to-date in Australia.

Once your SMSF deeds are created or updated through Cleardocs, we aim to keep you informed via email as soon as legislative or other changes require us to make amendments to our master documents. With that information, you can then decide whether to update the SMSF deed. You may need legal, financial, or other advice about whether to update. We cannot give you that advice.

This SMSF deed update system is one of the primary reasons that Cleardocs is now used by many of Australia's largest, specialist Self Managed Superannuation Fund administrators and providers

Who maintains the Cleardocs SMSF deed to ensure compliance with current laws?

Our lawyers at Maddocks constantly maintain the Cleardocs SMSF Deed and the question interface, to make sure they are up-to-date with current legislation. We often publish those changes in the monthly ClearLaw bulletin. Some of the many updates we have made — on the advice of Maddocks — to our deed are:

  • Cascading death benefit arrangements in September 2012;
  • Reflecting a change to the law allowing an SMSF with a corporate trustee and members under 18 in June 2012;
  • Reflecting changes to the law about SMSF Borrowing made in July 2010. As part of the changes, the name of the borrowing arrangements changed from "Instalment Warrants" to "Limited Recourse Borrowing" (You can read a ClearLaw article summarising the changes here.);
  • Death Benefit Agreements in May 2009 ;
  • Allowing instalment warrants in January 2008 (You can also order an Instalment Warrant document package from Cleardocs.);
  • "Simpler Super" and "Better Super" changes to the law in 2007;
  • Simplification following Budget 2006 announcements;
  • Contribution splitting;
  • Provisions for all the latest current pensions and reserving options included;
  • Product Disclosure Statement;
  • Changes to compulsory cashing benefits;
  • Minors allowed as members; and
  • Read more detail in our sample letter that explains the changes to Trustees here.

Changes in parties to the deed – members, trustees, etc

The interface and the Deed of Variation cater for the situation in which the parties to the fund have changed since the fund was established or since the fund's deed was amended.

Remember, you can change an SMSF's trustee(s) using one of the Cleardocs Change SMSF Trustee document packages.

Lost trust deed?

Our lawyers at Maddocks have combined with Cleardocs to offer additional services to Cleardocs customers for replacing a lost SMSF deed. The combined service works as follows:

  • You complete the normal Cleardocs SMSF deed update process — but when the system asks you for the number of the clause in the SMSF's deed that allows the deed to be varied, you type in a #.
  • You call us on 1300 307 343 and we will arrange for you to contact our lawyers at Maddocks. You will need to instruct Maddocks that the trustees, the members, and their advisers have made the appropriate searches for the missing deed.
  • Maddocks will use your instructions and the documents you created through Cleardocs to prepare a special Deed of Variation and associated documents. Maddocks will charge you for this work.

Bulk updates?

If you are interested in a bulk order for the SMSF deed update, we can help you.

  • We can simplify the payment methods to save you time — please call us on 1300 307 343 to find out how; and
  • We have put in place streamlined approaches for data upload into our system, reducing the data entry time:
    • We have integrated with both Class Super and BGL Simple Fund 360 - cloud solution. The integration allows importing of fund details directly into the Cleardocs Update to SMSF question interfaces. You can access this feature from your Bulk SMSF updates page in your Cleardocs account.
    • You can import fund details from an excel spreadsheet into the Cleardocs Update to SMSF question interfaces. You can access this feature from your Bulk SMSF updates page in your Cleardocs account.
    • You can update all your Cleardocs funds at the same time with one click. You can access this feature from your Bulk SMSF updates page in your Cleardocs account.

Cleardocs SMSF Minutes & Resolutions Package — keeping proper records

Cleardocs offers a range of SMSF meeting Minutes and circulating Resolutions for administration of a fund. SMSF has unlimited use of the SMSF Minutes & Resolutions Package for 12 months.

If you purchase your Fund's 12 months unlimited use of the SMSF Minutes & Resolutions Package when you update your SMSF deed through Cleardocs, you will receive a 15% discount on the package. SMSF Investment Strategy

Superannuation law requires that you maintain and regularly review your SMSF investment strategy. Cleardocs provides an Investment Strategy package to assist with this obligation.

Seek legal advice

The Update to SMSF 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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What happens if the Principal Employer/Employer Sponsor has ceased to exist since the fund's original deed?

If in practice, the fund does not have an Employer Sponsor or Participating Employer (as relevant), but there is one named in the fund's current deed, then your documents will name that Employer Sponsor or Participating Employer (as relevant) in the deed of variation and they will be required to sign it.

If that Employer Sponsor or Participating Employer (as relevant) no longer exists, is no longer involved in the fund's administration or is unable to sign the deed of variation, then you should ring us on 1300 307 343 and we will arrange for you to speak with our lawyers at Maddocks.

What do I do if the SMSF trust deed is lost?

If the SMSF's trust deed has been lost, then you need to consider the following steps in consultation with a lawyer:

  1. Arrange for all parties to the deed to conduct a thorough search for the deed;
  2. Contact the person (maybe a solicitor or accountant, or their firm) who arranged the deed to see if they have a copy;
  3. Ask the person (maybe a solicitor or accountant, or their firm) who arranged the deed if they have a deed which they arranged around the same time as your lost deed was arranged; and
  4. Seek advice from your lawyer as to whether you can use a similar deed to replace the lost Deed.

Maddocks provides a specialist service for lost SMSF Deeds.

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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