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Step by step guide to manage your Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSFs)

Are you eager to gain greater control over your retirement savings? In exploring the world of Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSFs), we need to be aware of the rules.

Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) offers various ways for you to manage your retirement savings. These funds give you more control over your money compared to regular superannuation funds. But starting an SMSF isn't simple. It involves following specific rules.

Unlike conventional superannuation funds, SMSFs grant you increased financial independence. However, embarking on the journey to set up your own SMSF can be somewhat challenging, primarily due to the intricate regulations involved.

In this comprehensive blog post, we'll take you on a step-by-step journey to navigate the SMSF establishment process with confidence.


By following these guidelines, you'll ensure your SMSF's eligibility for tax advantages, streamline its administration, and create an avenue for receiving contributions.

1. Seek Professional Guidance:

Consider engaging experts who are well-versed in SMSF regulations and procedures to provide you with valuable insights and assistance throughout the setup process. Their expertise can help you make informed decisions and avoid potential pitfalls.

2. Choose Your Trustees:

Determine whether you want individual trustees or a corporate trustee to oversee your SMSF. Individual trustees involve appointing specific people, while a corporate trustee involves appointing a company as the trustee. This decision impacts the fund's management structure and legal responsibilities.

3. Appoint Trustees or Directors:

Select and appoint the individuals who will serve as trustees (in the case of individual trustees) or directors (in the case of a corporate trustee). These individuals will have the fiduciary duty to manage the fund's assets and adhere to its rules.

4. Establish Trust and Trust Deed:

  • A trust is an arrangement where a person or company (the trustee) holds assets (trust property) in trust for the benefit of others (the beneficiaries). A super fund is a special type of trust, set up and maintained for the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits to its members (the beneficiaries).

  • A trust deed for an SMSF is a legally binding document outlining the fund's rules, objectives, and operational framework. It serves as the governing document, defining the rights and responsibilities of trustees, members, and beneficiaries. It covers critical aspects such as contribution acceptance, investment management, and conditions for benefit payments, ensuring compliance with SMSF regulations and operational clarity.

5. Ensure Regulatory Compliance:

Thoroughly review and ensure that your SMSF complies with all legal and regulatory requirements to qualify as an Australian super fund.

  • Origination in Australia: The fund must be established in Australia or have at least one asset located in Australia. It's considered established in Australia if the initial contribution to create it occurred in the country.

  • Key Decision-Making in Australia: The SMSF's crucial decisions and high-level tasks, such as shaping investment strategies, assessing performance, managing reserves, and determining asset allocation for member benefits, should typically take place in Australia.

  • Active Member Criteria: The fund must either have no active members or have active members who are Australian residents and collectively hold at least 50% of either the fund's total assets associated with super interests or the combined amounts payable to active members if they choose to exit the fund.

In most cases, even if central management temporarily leaves Australia for up to 2 years, the fund still qualifies. However, if central management permanently moves outside Australia for any duration, the fund will not meet this condition.

6. Register and Obtain ABN:

Register your SMSF with the appropriate government authorities, typically the ATO. This registration process ensures that your fund is officially recognized. You'll also need to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) for your SMSF, which is essential for tax purposes.

7. Set Up a Dedicated Bank Account:

Establish a separate bank account exclusively for your SMSF. This account is used to manage all financial transactions related to the fund, including contributions and rollovers of super, ensuring clear separation of SMSF assets from personal finances.

8. Obtain an Electronic Service Address:

Secure an electronic service address for your SMSF, which is essential for receiving official communications and documents from regulatory bodies and financial institutions. This electronic address streamlines the communication process and ensures you stay informed about important updates and requirements.

9. Develop an Exit Strategy:

Even during the initial setup of your SMSF, it's crucial to plan for its eventual conclusion or 'winding up.'

Unforeseen circumstances can sometimes make managing an SMSF challenging, such as:

  • A breakdown in the relationship between trustees.

  • An unexpected illness or accident incapacitating a trustee, rendering them unable to fulfill their role.

  • The unfortunate passing of a trustee.

Incorporating an exit strategy can mitigate the impact of these unforeseen events. Within your exit strategy, several considerations should be taken into account:

  • Ensure all trustees have access to the SMSF's records and electronic transaction accounts.

  • Implement specific rules in your fund's trust deed that are activated by events that might otherwise make the fund difficult to manage.

  • Encourage members to establish binding death benefit nominations (and renew them every three years).

  • Promote members to appoint an enduring power of attorney.

  • Estimate the potential costs associated with winding up an SMSF.

This thoughtful planning will help safeguard the stability and efficiency of your SMSF, even in the face of unexpected challenges.

Each of these steps is a critical component of establishing and maintaining a compliant and well-structured SMSF that aligns with your financial goals and ensures the efficient management of your retirement savings.


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Managing your Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF) effectively can be a rewarding but complex endeavor.

Don't leave your retirement savings to chance—trust Lynden Group for peace of mind and prosperity. Contact us to learn how we can help secure your financial future.

Email or give us a call at (03) 8548 1843.

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