Frequently Asked Questions

We have provided a brief outline of questions that often get asked about self-managed super funds (SMSF’s).  

If you don’t find the answer to your questions here, please Contact Us

Q1. What is a SMSF?

A: A self-managed super fund (SMSF) is a superannuation trust that provides retirement benefits to members who also act as trustees. The primary goal of setting up a SMSF is to give members greater control, authority and management of their financial wealth. It allows trustees to hold a variety of assets within the super fund, such as: commercial and residential properties, listed shares, cash accounts and other investment products to benefit all members into future retirement.



Q2. Who can be a trustee?


A: Depending on a client’s situation, you can choose to be either an individual trustee or director of a corporate trustee. Given recent changes to the legislation, it is our view that a corporate trustee is the way to go. Feel free to contact us to discuss the benefits of either option.

  •  Individual trustee – In this situation, each SMSF member must be a trustee with a maximum of 4 members/trustees allowed.
  • Corporate trustee - Is a company incorporated under the law that acts as a trustee for the fund. Each SMSF member must be a director of the corporate trustee with a maximum of 4 persons. Given recent changes, we would highly recommend a corporate trustee.



Q3: Do you need to be a corporate trustee?

A: No. However, corporate trustee allows for greater flexibility and provides a clear distinction as to who owns the SMSF assets. The cost of establishing the trustee is a once off and a minor outlay. It’s very useful in succession planning where younger members are admitted to the SMSF as older members retire – the departing member resigns from the trustee board and the incoming member is appointed to the trustee board. It’s as simple as that.



Q4: What investments can an SMSF hold?

A: When you are the trustee of a SMSF, you have much greater control of your investment decisions. You can select investment assets to suit the needs of your fund and it’s members. This however, is subject to rules and restrictions. It’s important to keep in mind that investments within a SMSF cannot be used for immediate personal financial gain. The fund is there to provide long-term retirement benefits for members of the fund.


Some investment options include:

  • Term deposits
  • Shares
  • Managed funds
  • Residential properties
  • Commercial properties
  • Cash management and bank accounts



Q5: Who can audit an SMSF?

A: Only an ASIC registered accountant with relevant auditing qualifications can audit a SMSF. It is essential that only experienced professionals conduct the audits. A large portion of our work is focused on the auditing of self-managed super funds. Audits are usually conducted at the direct request of the trustees or by a managing accounting firm. Conveniently located in Carlton, clients have little difficulty in providing their SMSF documentation to us.



Q6: How to pay benefits out of a SMSF?


A: Benefits can be paid from a SMSF in the form of a pension of lump sum. Cashing restrictions must first be satisfied such as retirement, death, disablement or termination from employment. In certain instances, a transition to retirement pension (TRIS) may be paid even though none of the above restrictions have been met. Some of these restrictions are age based, known also as your preservation age. 


Access to member benefits generally falls into the following 3 categories:

  • Preserved Benefits:
    • Funds can be accessed but only if a cashing restriction has been satisfied past your preservation age.
  • Restricted Non-Preserved Benefits
    • Funds can be accessed if certain conditions are met such as termination of employment, prior to reaching your preservation age. This is becoming a less available option.
  • Unrestricted Non-Preserved Benefits
    • Funds can be paid out at any time.



Q7: What is the lifespan of a SMSF?


A: All SMSF’s have an unlimited life span. This means the fund continues to provide benefits into the future for members and their dependents. A SMSF is particularly useful with business succession planning where the older owners retire and the younger generation take over. They can also be admitted to the SMSF. This is particularly pertinent where the SMSF owns the business premises.



If you require further information on SMSF accounting or SMSF audit, please contact J Trioli & Co in Carlton on (03) 9663- 8200 or alternatively Email Us and we will endeavour to answer all your questions.