Maxwell at the date of his death had never been married and did not have any children. He had previously been in two long term de facto relationships.
Maxwell and Beatrice was one (1981 to 1991). Matthias was born in 1979 and his mother is Beatrice. Matthias considers Maxwell as his father.
Maxwell and Alison Betts was another (1991-2012).
Jing met Maxwell in 2007. In mid-2014, Jing became concerned about Maxwell’s health because of a fall – she says that she started living with Maxwell at his house in Fitzroy and she says at the time of his death she was a “dependant”.
In 2016, Maxwell affirms his non-binding death benefit nomination with BT Funds Management Limited in favour of his estate (his superannuation will be paid in accordance with this Will).
In 2017, Maxwell makes a Will leaving his estate to Jing, Matthias and Alison in equal shares. Maxwell refers to Jing as his “friend” in his Will.
Later that year, Maxwell dies. He has a superannuation payout of $881,111.
In 2018, BT Funds Management Limited decides to pay 100% of his superannuation to Jing, on the basis that she was a de facto of Maxwell at the date of his death.
Matthias, as executor of Maxwell’s Will, objects that decision.
BT Funds Management Limited decides to pay 100% of Maxwell’s superannuation to Maxwell’s estate (therefore it will be distributed to Jing, Matthias and Alison in equal shares).
Jing objects this decision.
It goes through various appeal avenues, and the decision reaches the Federal Court of Australia
In 2022, Jing loses in Court.
What do we learn?
Please sign a Binding Death Benefit Nomination and make sure that it is current. Don’t just look at your super statement and see a nomination – make sure it is binding.
The Judge in this matter held if Maxwell had made a Binding Death Benefit Nomination, BT Funds Management Limited would not have a relevant discretion in relation to the distribution of Maxwell’s superannuation. BT would have paid his superannuation to his estate – end of story.
Jing had to prove she is a “dependant” – she would have to prove she is a spouse or in an interdependency relationship with Maxwell. Proving you are a wife is easy – you have a marriage certificate. But proving you are a de facto spouse or in an interdependency relationship – that’s an uphill battle.
Don’t be like Mark. Seek comprehensive estate planning advice to ensure your loved ones are looked after.
Book a free strategy meeting by calling 9800 1217 or book here: https://greatsouthernwills.com.au/
Ps the above is true: Wan v BT Funds Management Limited  FCA 032 (30 March 2022).