Most people will want to keep as much money in their superannuation account for as long as possible. One of the primary reasons behind this is that the longer the superannuation has a chance to stay within the account, the more returns may be seen (depending on how the investment assets are performing).
Often, people will ask if they actually have to take their money out. The simple answer is no.
You never have to take your own super out if you don’t want to. There are plenty of rules regarding keeping money in super (including the conditions and requirements to withdrawing, meeting preservation ages, etc). There are very few however that force you to take it out, and very rarely will you be forced to withdraw your superannuation if you do not want to.
The only time your super must be paid out is following your death (which, technically, means that you won’t receive that money anyway, it will be your beneficiary/ies who will).
The question though is whether or not you should leave your superannuation in there until you die. It comes down to who is receiving the money from your super.
If the money is being paid out to your spouse, it will be tax-free and there will be no issue with accessing it. You can also keep as much of your superannuation in there for as long as is necessary.
When you are a married couple, you can leave it to each other. However the remaining living spouse will often end up leaving their super to their adult children, and therein lies the catch.
When your super is paid to a child who is over 25 (without a disability), the adult child has to pay 17% tax on any taxable component of their parent’s super. In this situation, taking professional advice to compare the tax consequences of taking your super early (where you pay the tax on the earnings) versus the tax position of leaving it in super and your kids paying 17% on the taxable component instead, may be needed to work out what might be best for your situation.
One of the primary concerns is that those finding themselves in this position, where they have for example $600,000 in super and in their mid-eighties are not paying tax and not regularly seeking advice are the ones whose children end up paying the tax.
It may be that the next generation needs to be involved with their elderly parents’ financial positions to ensure that they are not going to be stung with Australia’s death taxes on superannuation payments.
Remember, this tax is only payable on the taxable component of the superannuation – there are strategies that can be put in place during your sixties that can reduce the taxable component of your super (without taking it out and remaining in your name).
Everyone in their sixties should be taking advice from professionals so that the impact of death benefit taxes are reduced for their adult children when it is mandatory for their parents’ superannuation to be paid out to them.