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SMSF – Your questions answered, day 10 – When can I access my SMSF?

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Members can only access their SMSF benefits once they have reached preservation age, which ranges from 55 to 60 depending on your year of birth.

However, a member can receive early access to their benefits under extenuating circumstances such as a terminal illness or injury or in the event of their permanent incapacity. Speak with the ATO before accessing your benefits early as unlawful access can impose severe penalties to you and your SMSF.

To withdraw benefits from your SMSF, you must satisfy the conditions of release imposed by the ATO and those outlined in your trust deed. Your benefits will be classified according to how they meet these conditions of release.

Preserved benefits are those benefits within your SMSF which can be cashed in if a condition of release is satisfied. They are then subject to the cashing restrictions (that is, what form the benefit can be received in), the restrictions of which are applicable to all superannuation under ATO laws, whether in a SMSF or not.

Restricted non-preserved benefits, like preserved benefits, need to meet a condition of release before being cashed.

Unrestricted non-preserved benefits, on the other hand, don’t need a condition of release and can be accessed whenever the member wishes. These may be benefits that have already met a condition of release but had not been accessed yet.

Remember though, if any benefits are unlawfully released from your SMSF, the trustees, your SMSF and the recipient of the benefit can be slugged with severe penalties from the ATO. Ensure you stay compliant with the rules and regulations governing access to your super!

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Wednesday, January 05, 2011

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